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Assembly recommends tax waiver for liquor outlets and eateries

Kirinyaga County Assembly has recommended for a waiver of 2020 single business permits due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Assembly also resolved that the fees paid for licenses and permits for the 2020 calendar year shall be carried over as fees for the 2021.

Batista Kanga the Member of County Assembly for Wamumu ward who moved the motion said the enterprises that had paid fees for licenses and permits for both 2020 and 2021 receive a waiver for their 2022 due.

“The waiver the Assembly resolved will only apply to businesses which had fully paid their 2019 and 2018 dues where applicable.

Kanga said bar owners and hotels had petitioned the Assembly with a complaint that those seeking to renew their permits were being forced to provide permits for the year 2020 or pay the accruing arrears.

He said many businesses suffered closure due to containment measures introduced by the government.

Kanga said even after the relaxation of the measures, most business operators in Kirinyaga County are still reeling under the adverse effects and experiencing post-pandemic trauma with most struggling to sustain operations and meeting their daily obligations.

“Where on earth does this county government expect these people to get money for the permits if they have remained closed for the better part of the year 2020,” Kanga wondered.

He said a communication had already been made to the relevant department and operators within the alcoholic and related outlets to have cleared the 2020 single business permit arrears by the date that the inspection third March 2021.

“We don’t want our traders harassed by the enforcement officers from now on until the waiver is implemented by the executive mandated by the law to effect such a waiver,” Kanga said.

He said the county should enforce payment of the year 2021 single business permits charges without demanding payment for any outstanding fees towards the 2020 business permits or licenses.

“The county government must wake up and support the people back to their feet by providing the waiver we have recommended today,” he said.

Nyangati ward representative Samuel Maina took issue with the executive for failing to implement a resolution for the waiver, the Assembly passed on June 2020.

He said under the waiver the county government was supposed to have stopped the collection of levies in the markets to cushion the public from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a serious violation of failing to implement the resolution of this House and can lead to impeachment of those involved,” Maina said

He said the business closed down in March shortly after they had paid their licenses making the situation very dire.

“We are appealing to our governor to consider this issue as urgent and listen to the cry of her people as we have recommended,” he said.

He said one arm of the government cannot claim to be superior to the other and both institutions should work in harmony.

The CEC for Sports, Culture, and Social Services Denis Muchiri who was later summoned by the MCAs, said the biggest part of the county revenue is generated from the liquor business.

He said Kirinyaga County has over 1,700 alcoholic outlets which collect close to Sh40 million per financial year from the county’s revenue target of Sh405 million. He said as of March 2020 more than 75 per cent of bar owners had paid their licenses.

Other counties that have implemented such waivers included Tana River, Makueni Kitui, Nyeri, and Muranga with a reduction of 10 per cent of the fee.

A bar operator in Kirinyaga is required to pay upto Sh25,000 for a liquor license and 25,000 for single business permits while Wine and Spirits operators have to part with Sh100,000 for the liquor license in order to operate.

by Irungu Mwangi

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