Tough times for Nyanza residents as counties propose new taxes

Siaya Governor James Orengo. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Residents in two Nyanza counties will have to dig deeper into their pockets to access various services following proposals to increase levies in Siaya and Kisii to help plug the budget deficit.

The proposals are contained in the Finance Bill, 2023, drafted by the devolved units.

In Siaya, daily bed charges in public hospitals, property rates and bus park charges are among a raft of new costly levies being proposed by Governor James Orengo’s administration.

The new revenue-raising measures, which will see Siaya residents dig deeper into their pockets, are aimed at raising Sh600 million in Own Source Revenue (OSR) in the financial year ending June 30, 2024.

The new measures, which also include the doubling or introduction of some new charges, are contained in Siaya County Finance Bill 2023.

Among the proposals by Orengo’s government is the introduction of daily charges for food for in-patients in public hospitals. Patients will now part with Sh300 per day. Currently, the hospitals have been charging only beds at Sh350 per day.

Admission fees for bodies from within the hospital facility will attract Sh3, 000 up from Sh2, 000 while bodies from outside will be charged Sh3,500 from Sh2,000 in the new proposals.

If approved by the County Assembly, bodies recovered from the water will attract an admission fee of Sh3,500 while embalming of the same bodies will be Sh5,000.

Bodies from within and outside the hospital will be charged Sh400 per day from Sh300 in the new proposals that are set to be subjected to public scrutiny.

Postmortem services have also increased from Sh10,000 to Sh15,000 as those seeking ambulance services within Siaya County on their own request will be required to pay Sh3,500 up from Sh2,500.

The bill proposes to increase the bed charges in ICU from Sh1,000 to Sh3,500 while admission fees from within or through referrals will attract an increment of Sh2,500 to Sh30,000 and Sh3,000 to Sh35,000 respectively.

To be buried in the county government cemetery as an adult residing in the county, the proposed fee is Sh10,000 from Sh2,000.

Local brewers will be required to pay Sh15,000 to apply for a license according to the Siaya County Alcoholic Drink Act, 2016.

However, people living with disabilities holding exemption certificates will be exempted up to 50 per cent of the Alcoholic Drink License.

The new proposals give reprieve to fish cage farmers, who will now pay Sh5,000 from Sh12,500 for owning between 1-5 cages. Those with 10-35 cages will also pay Sh10,000, 000 down from Sh50,000 in the previous financial year.

As part of the new charges, the emission of noise and vibrations without noise licensing using sound amplifying device will attract a penalty of Sh5,000 per instance.

Undeveloped commercial plots that are unmaintained within municipalities and established market centres will be penalized four per cent of the land value.

Boda boda operators will be slapped with a fine of Sh50,000 or imprisonment for a period of one year or both for setting up any unauthorized stage.

In Kisii, Governor Simba Arati's administration has moved to protect the mining of raw soapstone by unscrupulous business people by increasing the cess to be charged to those wishing to transport the product to outside Kisii.

In the proposed taxes, business people will be paying Sh 20,000 per tonne to transport raw soapstone.

Those using a 20-foot container and a 40-foot container will pay Sh 200,000 and Sh 400,000 per container for raw soapstone.

The move, according to the Finance Bill, 2023 will protect locals in the Tabaka area who toil to mine the precious stone.

Vehicles with over 20 tons transporting tea will be paying Sh 5,00 per trip while those with 10-19 tones, five to nine and three to five tines will pay Sh 2,000, Sh 1,000 and Sh 500 per trip.

The County has also introduced a tax of Sh 5,000 per week for those intending to hold Christian Power nights or vigils commonly referred to as kesho.

Chairperson of Budget and Appropriations Committee Peter Otachi said the County should fast-track the establishment of a County Court to charge defaulters and revenue offenders.

“Drafting of these tax proposals involved a wide spectrum of activities and benchmarking from other similar Government establishments to ensure that the rates and fees charged are fair, affordable and regionally balanced to spur economic growth and also considering the rising cost of living,” said Otachi.

The Committee noted that the County lacks legislations and regulations necessary for the exploitation of agricultural produce; Tea, Coffee, Bananas and other mineral extracts like soapstone.

Further, the County is hindered from the collection of certain agricultural produce cess due to the non-existence of the enabling legislation.

The committee however was informed that one such piece of legislation; The Kisii County Cess Bill was at an advanced stage and will, once enacted, enable the County Government to manage Agricultural Produce Cess more appropriately.

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