Traders warn high levies will be a burden to hustlers

Traders selling fresh produce at Chebole Trading Center along the Kaplong-Narok highway. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Traders in Nakuru County have protested plans by the Treasury to increase taxes in the next financial year.

They said they do not understand why President William Ruto, who promised to reduce taxes during his presidential campaigns, has turned around.

According to Elizabeth Wanjiru, a vegetable vendor at the Nakuru Wholesale Market, the proposals contained in Treasury’s revenue-rising measures, will hurt their businesses and families.

“This will be a huge burden to hustlers. Besides paying local taxes to the county,  proposed taxes on items like bread will heavily impact our lives. As a farmer and trader, I am overtaxed: starting with drying facility levies, market fees, trader’s licence, and with brokers in the market it becomes difficult to make a profit,” she said.

Wanjiru also laments that county taxes have also increased for the last three years. “For the past three years, taxes have increased from Sh6,000 in June 2022 to 8,000 last year, with an additional Sh1,800 for cess.  

She observed that as much as the taxes continued to go up, no value for the money collected is felt at markets.

“It is a challenge paying for cess due to lack of automated services that create a loophole for corrupt officers to exploit traders by issuing fake receipts,’’ she ad

Grace Kimani, who has been in the fish business in Naivasha for years, said that even after participating in the taxation policy-making process her voice was unheard.

Kimani questioned the criteria determining tax rates indicating that the amount she pays does not match that of her neigbour who has a similar business.

“There is an illegal market on Lake Naivasha, the county should introduce movement permits for fish,” she stated.

Caren Atieno explained that she was among traders not conversant with the Finance Bill 2024 and called on stakeholders to hold sensitisation meetings.

“We would wish to understand what we will be paying for. Most of us are not conversant with the Finance Bill,” she said.

Wilson Gitu, the chair of the business community in Naivasha stated that the proposed taxes have led to unpredictability among business owners.

“For now one can’t plan his/her business for the next three to five years, “ he said.

Nakuru-based Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance Organisation(CEDGG) Programme Officer Wilkister Akinyi said the organisation was collecting views, ideas, and recommendations from businesses to be used to draft a tax policy for the county.

She said CEDGG will support the county in drafting policies that will increase revenue.

“The ultimate goal is to work with the county government to increase revenue collection, and motivate the business community into paying taxes and demand effective service delivery,” Akinyi said.

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