Business Community decries
high cost of doing business in Mombasa County
The business community in Mombasa is up in arms about the
high cost of doing business following the recent revocation of the waiver on entry
fee by the county Government of Mombasa. Following this development the business
community sought audience with the County Government on 8th August
2014 to have the crisis resolved.
The team from the county Government comprised the CEC for
Trade, Energy and Industrialization Mr. Mohamed Abdi and the County Secretary
Hamisi Mwaguya. The business community was represented by members from Krystal
line Salt, Coca cola ,Milly Glass, Polucon Services, Mombasa Maize millers,
Bamburi Cement, KNCCI representative and
a KATO representative.
The question of legality of the entry fee was raised by members
who sought to know why Mombasa is charging entry fee which they had disputed
last year, when it was introduced in the Finance Act 2013.
Concern was also raised over cess fees being charged by the
county for non agricultural products as cess is for agricultural products and is
charged at the source. Members cited the case of Bamburi cement that pays cess
for clinker at Kilifi and when it reaches Mombasa they are still required to
pay the same, which is double taxation.
The entry fee was specifically meant for Kongowea market in
the defunct local authority, but the County Government put it in the bill thus
creating barriers at Shanzu and Miritini.
Mr. Abdi explained that the waiver was revoked because proper
procedure was not followed in issuing the waiver. He however was quick to point
out that the manner in which it was revoked through a newspaper advert before
consulting with the business community was not proper.
Speaking in the same meeting the Coast Chapter Chairman,
Munir Thabit said that most businesses operate on orders that they receive to
manufacture and such a directive puts businesses in a lot of anxiety.
He proposed that the revocation of waiver is nullified, a
working committee be formed between County Government and the private sector to
come up with proposals on how levies are to be done but not charging on a daily
Responding to the proposal Mr. Abdi indicated that he was
not in a position to make a decision on nullification of the revocation of the
waiver and had to consult with the Finance Executive. He however agreed that
having a working committee comprising of private sector and County Government would
be a better way going forward.
Members present from different BMOs were tasked to send in
five names per BMO to the County to form part of the working committee.
Mr. Abdi agreed to get back to the business community before
close of the day after discussing with the Finance Executive on the request to
have nullification of the revocation order. He further indicated that since the
county is in the process of coming up with the Finance Bill 2014 the working
committee will be part of the team working on the document.
Mombasa Business Coalition
Launches County Business Agenda
The Mombasa Business Coalition that is made up of Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya Transport Association, The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mombasa County Community Based Association, Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association, East Africa Tea Trade Association, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, Container Freight Station Association, KIFWA, Ujamaa and PERAK launched the County Business
The publication that highlights the priority business issues that need to
be addressed to ensure a conducive business environment for the county was published after various meetings were held between the business coalition of Mombasa and various County Executives of Mombasa County Government in Mombasa County.
The issues deliberated upon were divided into six thematic
& business levies.
It is in this regard, that members of the coalition met with
Mr. Mohamed Abdi the County Executive for Trade and Industrialization to officially
hand over the publication to the County.
Speaking during the launch Millicent Odhiambo of Mombasa and
Coast Tourist Association said: “This document will be like a Bible to be used
as a reference point by the county to ensure implementation of the
recommendations by the Business community.”
In the spirit of Public Private Dialogue, it was mentioned
that the County needs to consult with the business community when a new
directive or change is coming up in order to foster business relations and to
ensure harmony in the county. A case in point is the notice put on the Star
Newspaper of 8th August 2014, revoking the waiver on CESS charges
for manufacturers and transporters. The Business Community lamented that the
CESS charge will only increase the cost of doing business.
Speaking during the handing over, the Mombasa Business
Coalition Chair Ms Monika Solanki, reiterated that the document was a living
document that will be reviewed from time to time.
“This publication is a document that needs to be kept alive
by having it reviewed, see what has been achieved, what has not been achieved
and why, recommend way forward as well as have timelines on achievement of the
pending issues,” she said.
“We look forward to engage with the County to review the
publication together once they have gone through it with their counterparts,”
County Executive for Trade Mohamed Abdi acknowledged the
good work initiated by the business community. “This is a great milestone In
the process of Public Private Dialogue being documented,” he said.
He further mentioned that the published document will be
useful to them as the county government as they will use it as a reference
point in order to deliver to the business community who are key taxpayers. He
also called on the private sector to drive the process and continue engaging.
The business community was urged to be the watchdog and
ensure that clear timelines are set by the County Government to achieve all the
Members of the fourth Estate present in the meeting were
also urged to make the County Agenda their Number one priority and report on
positive issues happening in the County and not just the negative.
Concerns were also raised about the congestion at Kibarani
and what plans the county has on creating an alternative exit and entry point so
as not to entirely depend on the causeway. It was further mentioned that trucks
using the causeway were no longer following the directive to keep left and this
needs to be enforced.
Responding to the concerns Mr. Mohamed said plans to explore
the option of water transport as an alternative are at an advanced stage. He
also indicated that there are plans to come up with a 2nd Nyali
Bridge though this may take time since it’s a National Government project.
In his closing remarks Mr. Mohamed said the County Government
is in the process of coming up with a Finance Bill for 2014 and urged the
business community to participate fully, by giving their proposals when they
get invitation to attend public forums.