Mixed reactions as Nakuru MCAs endorse Finance Act

An Ariel view of a section of Nakuru town. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Nakuru residents have expressed mixed reactions about the Finance Act 2023 which proposes a raft of changes in taxation.

The law proposes tax and fee cuts in health, education, land, environment, roads and transport, trade and tourism, among others.

Local MCAs have endorsed the law on taxation.

County Assembly’s Leader of Majority Alex Langat said the Act has ensured that taxes are reduced across all sectors and also defined.

“Zoning of taxes will ensure individuals and companies who make more pay more and those who make less pay less,” said Langat.

Nominated MCA Grace Wambui echoed Langat’s sentiments, saying the amounts collected will be returned to the county under the budget.

MCAs insisted that proper public participation was done and that residents and non-residents understood what the new law means.

However, most Nakuru residents are unaware that the Bill was passed and has been assented to. A majority say they were not engaged in public participation and have not read it.

Rift Valley Law Society of Kenya Chair Aston Muchela said he had not thoroughly gone through the Act.

A senior land official, who wanted to remain anonymous said he also had not read the Finance Act, despite the same having proposals affecting the land’s department.

The Act has introduced new fees, increased charges on previous fees, reduced fees in some sectors, and completely scrapped fees in others.

“Companies and individuals will pay a new standard penalty of Sh50,000 if they default on payment of taxes or fees,” reads the Act.

The land and housing fees will now include an amalgamation application fee of Sh1,000 each and a dispute resolution fee of Sh1,000 per party.

The Act has scrapped the land allotment letter issuance fee of Sh5,000, Sh2,500 replacement fee, Sh10,000 lease document fee, and Sh500 search fees.

Licences on sand harvesting and quarrying, previously free, will now cost Sh100,000 per year in a farm of more than an acre.

Transportation of cement pozzolana clay within Nakuru will cost between Sh100 to Sh1,250 per trip. Outside Nakuru will range from Sh500 to Sh5,000- from a pick-up to a trailer respectively.

Timber harvesting and processing companies will be required to have a transporters’ certificate, renewed annually. The pick-up certificate will cost Sh2,000 while a trailer’s certificate will be Sh10,000.

In reprieve, Sh15,000 fees for forest processing yard permits that existed since 2019 have now been removed.

Cutting down trees on private land will attract a fee of Sh200 per tree and Sh10,000 fees for the first 50 trees. Any additional tree will cost Sh30.

The waste resource sorting, reusing, recycling, or collection certificate will cost between Sh2,000 to Sh10,000 depending on the collection area.

“The new fees may be good but it may be a discouragement to non-residents. With the new fees on sand harvesting,” said John Gicheha Mungai, an environmentalist.

The penalty for dumping wastes in undesignated sites has been increased from Sh10,000 to Sh15,000 for handcarts.

The county has deleted the waste resource sorting recycling or collection annual permit fee of Sh2,000 and solid waste management operators license from Sh20,000 to nothing.

In Agriculture, excess packaging of potatoes will attract a penalty of Sh200 per bag from 50 bags to 70 bags and Sh500 per bag for 71 bags and above.

“Those who sell potatoes without packaging per kg will pay a penalty of Sh1,000,” reads the act.

Events and tours in any County Recreational Parks will attract fees; between Sh1,500 to Sh3,500 for primary school tours depending on a number of pupils and between Sh2,400 and 6,000 for secondary school students.

Birthday, baby showers, graduation, and retreat ceremonies at the parks will attract a fee of between Sh2,500 to Sh20,000 per day depending on the numbers.

Under public health, building plans for cottages will now cost Sh10,000 from zero and a penalty of Sh50,000 for non-payment.

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