Cane farmers want e-TIMS done away with

Sugar cane farmers in Western Kenya region want Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to do away with the controversial electronic Tax Invoicing Management System (e-TIMS).

The farmers are opposed to the new tax and payment changes requiring them to present e-TIMS invoices for cane deliveries to factories before their payment is processed.

KRA had given cane farmers up to April 1, 2024 to have registered in the system with some millers already pushing farmers to produce the e-TIMS to be paid.

Mathews Lukunze, a cane farmer from Malava, expressed his reservations over the requirement saying there was no proper communication between them and KRA and that the new tax and payment changes could hurt the already struggling industry.

“The sugarcane industry is on its knees and any policy that is not aligned with the welfare of farmers and plans to introduce e-TIMS is out to kill it. Many farmers are illiterate or semi-illiterate and cannot comprehend what e-TIMS is,” said Lukunze.

Titus Mulupi, another farmer, said some cane farmers are illiterate and old, and the requirement to have them enlist in the digital system will make many abandon the venture and attract middlemen.

“I am an educated farmer and I still find e-TIMS confusing and difficult to navigate. What about that farmer who is not educated? It means they will have to seek help and that is where brokers will come in and con the unsuspecting farmer,” said Mulupi.

The farmers said, already, the price of sugarcane per tonne has reduced, from Sh6,500 to Sh5,100, a development they termed a huge blow.

“The government should now be focusing on increasing the price per tonne and come up with policies that will encourage the revival of the sector,” said Mulupi. Leaders from the region have also opposed the new tax and payment changes, arguing that most cane farmers are not well-versed with technology.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has taken a firm stance against the sugar sector’s newly introduced tax and payment charges.

Addressing Muslim faithful in Lugari sub-county, Mr Barasa opposed the new tax law, demanding its suspension as it would punish sugarcane farmers.

“We call upon the cane pricing committee to review their decision, which includes reducing the price of cane per tonne and we want a law that puts sets the price of one tone above Sh6,000 to ensure fair compensation for farmers,” said Mr Barasa.

Lurambi MP Titus Khamala said the move will discourage farmers and kill the venture which is already on its knees.

“In a bid to cushion and encourage sugarcane farming, such a move should be done away with.”

Butali Sugar’s Finance head Daniel Kihondi said the company is scheduling a meeting with KRA over the e-TIMS directive. 

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