October 14, 2014, Machakos: High County fees and poor revenue collection methods are keeping investors away from the counties, county trade executives and finance managers were told in a two-day forum held by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) in Machakos today. The officials were drawn from over 30 counties and are responsible for drawing up county finance bills. CRA Chairman, Mr. Micah Cheserem, called for transparency and accountability. ”Can you demonstrate the services you are giving for this taxes?” he asked the participants and also urged them to find a forum where they harmonise some of the common charges to business.
Article 209(5) of the constitution which covers taxation and other revenue raising powers of a county states that this power should not be exercised in a way that prejudices the national economic policies or economic activities across county boundaries and international mobility of good services and labour. But there seems to be confusion in the counties regarding trade licences, single business permits and cess taxes. Trade officials were asked to use the model finance law which exists and covers all revenue raising mechanisms in counties and only allows collection of fees for services not taxes. They were also encouraged to create policies that create a conducive working environment for private sector.
Ms. Betty Maina, CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, asked participants to improve the methods of revenue collection as it was becoming harmful to business. “We would like to repair this adversarial relationship as a result of your revenue raising measures. If you open a truck carrying flowers to count the number of boxes for revenues collection purposes, you have destroyed that whole consignment because these trucks are not meant to be opened. Revenue collection has to be done in a manner that does not hurt business,” she said.
She also called for a reduction in the multiple costs to business raised by devolution. “The annual tax bill of a local company has risen from Kshs. 5 million to 50 million if the company factors in 2014 county charges,” she added.
Counties were also asked to improve public participation by involving the business community right from the start of drawing up the finance bills and posting the bills in good time on their websites so that people have time to read and respond.
CRA holds Doing Business Forum for County Trade and Finance leaders
CRA CEO Mr. Micah Cheserem yesterday called on county governments to be transparent and show how they were using fees to serve the Business community "Can you demonstrate the services you are giving for these taxes?" he asked the County Executives for Trade and Finance Leaders drawn from the 30 counties present for a 2 day forum held at Maanzoni Lodge which ends today (14 Oct).
CS Ngilu assures investors that the Law will protect their land interests in the country
September 29, 2014, Nairobi : The Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Lands, Urban Housing and Urban Development today (September 29) assured foreign investors in the country that Article 65 of the Constitution will not impact negatively on their land ownership once their leases run out, a top official of Kenya Association of Manufacturers has said. There had been a concern by the investors has been the stipulation that non citizens can only hold land leases with tenure of 99 year. The assurance came during a meeting held today after the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) paid her a courtesy call. are therefore concerned whether these parcels of land qualify for automatic renewal after expiry.
Section 13 of the Land Act 2012, states that upon expiry of the lease land shall be offered to the immediate past holder if the land is not required by the national or county government. Mrs. Ngilu explained that land should not be held for speculation purposes and would only be repossessed if it was not being put to use. She also clarified that the Chief Land Registrar will now sign leases and that the County government cannot register titles, they can only give land for use implying that the national government would have a role to play in the transfer of land upon the expiry of a lease. She further promised to safeguard the interests of investors with regard to land. “We are going through some changes and will work on amendments to the laws which are inconsistent with the Constitution. They were passed in a hurry because there was a deadline but we have now put a team together to do these amendments,” she said.
The Cabinet Secretary also said that the ministry had developed an automated system of printing leases and they are currently keying them in into the system and verifying their authenticity.. About 17,000 leases are pending and should be done within the next 3 months. Companies that have done subdivisions and developed properties that they now want to dispose will soon be able to do this as the process is almost complete. The ministry has also put in place a system to allow Kenyans to do a search online.
The manufacturers also asked her to look into the system of paying land raters as they are not able to get confirmations of payment and also to look into the problem of zoning as there were difficulties. “Conflict is arising from a lack of respect of zoning and there are many invasions of land originally set aside for manufacturing purposes,” said Ms. Betty Maina, the CEO of KAM calling for a solution that would not force evictions.
She cited quarry factories off mlolongo that had to be relocated due to residential settlements which conflict with quarrying activities and factories in Athi River area which spill over to Kitengela, a densely populated residential area. Similar situations exist at the coast and especially where there are salt mining activities.
Mrs. Ngilu called for proper physical planning and said that there was need for the ministry to identify and designate land which can be used for manufacturing and other important sectors in order to be in a position to advise government at all levels. Banks which had been set aside has been depleted since the 1990s and current land banks are being converted for other purposes through the change of user process.
Mombasa Stakeholders attended a meeting on Friday to discuss the 2014 - 2015 Mombasa Finance Bill. The forum was held at the Kenya School of Government on Friday, 26th September. Among the stakeholders were manufacturers and members of KAM who in the past have been adversely affected by the Finance Bill and have been petitioning the Governor of the County to institute levies and charges after consulting with the business sector.
Other County Bills under review include
- The Kwale County Finance Bill, 2014
- The Business Licensing Bill, 2014
- The Kwale County Agriculture Cost Sharing Bill, 2014
- The Kwale County Animal Diseases Bill, 2014
- The Kwale County Charges under Meat Control Bill, 2014; and
- The Kilifi Finance Bill, 2014
The national draft climate change framework policy and bill were today validated in a conference at KICC. The forum was led by Dr. Richard Lesiyampe, the Permanent Secretary, State Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Climate change is increasingly becoming a concern in the country and adaptation and mitigation measures need to be adopted in order to reverse the effects of this phenomenon. Various sectors in the country will be severely affected if climate change is allowed to run its course without any interventions. The Agricultural sector in particular had come under threat and if allowed to continue unabated, the phenomenon would affect the country's economic base and also affect manufacturing activities. "Engaging environmental initiatives is no longer a philanthropic venture but an investment opportunity," said Dr. Lesimpaye as he lauded the role played by the Private sector in drawing up both the bill and policy. He pointed out that Climate change and called for technological change to counteract the effects of the change.
Counteractive measures cannot be adopted without a legal and policy framework making it necessary to come up with a national climate change policy and bill for more coordinated and streamlined efforts. Martha Cheruto, EO, Energy was the Vice Chair of the national task force charged with drawing up the policy and bill.
Climate change is as a result of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere which heat up the earth beyond normal levels. Due to the small size of them manufacturing sector, emissions from the local industrial sector are still low and is estimated at 0.3 MtCO2e annually. However projections show that this emissions could increase to considerably by the year 2030 especially if the industrialisation plans outlined in Vision 2030 are achieved.
Manufacturers will be affected once the bill and policy are adopted because the government will tax production practices unfriendly to the environment and need to be on look out for issues related to aspects in the legal framework such as the polluter pays stipulation.
County Government Focuses on Infrastructure Improvement
The County Government of Uasin Gishu has recently focused on developing and improving infrastructure within the County. On roads, over 900km of roads have been graded and murraming is being done. The roads in focus include; improvement of link roads that join the main highway. Completion of the Kapsoya road will also ease traffic congestion along the highway and the CBD. There has also been on-going improvement of street lighting and drainage works in Eldoret town alongside tendered for tarmacking of major streets in Eldoret town (64 St, Muliro and Gen. Kago). Furthermore the County Government has embarked on development of walkways for pedestrians along Iten Road and Uganda Road.
Apart from this, development of a new fire station has been tendered at Maili Nne to enhance rapid response by fire and the disaster management team within the region. The County has also focused on increased capacity in roads and survey divisions for efficient delivery of service.
Page 1 of 19