The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has mounted an intensive awareness campaign among small-scale cross border traders with the aim of changing their attitude and perception towards taxation.
The KRA outreach sensitization campaign comes in the backdrop of a large-scale anti-smuggling crackdown by the security agencies across the coast region.
KRA Chief Manager Customs and Border Control Southern Region Agatha Munyaka said the tax sensitization campaign was expected to fill the ‘information, knowledge and skills gaps’ the border traders have regarding the importation and exportation of goods.
She said KRA would work closely with all border stakeholders to fight unscrupulous traders who smuggle contraband goods and thrive on illicit trades.
Munyaka said KRA is determined to facilitate legitimate trade and cultivate good working relationships with cross border traders in the country.
She said KRA was alive to the fact that trade facilitation efforts would lead to increased revenue collection, growth of economy and poverty reduction besides creating a conducive environment for investment.
“All our efforts are now geared towards reducing the cost of doing business and speeding up clearance of goods at border points,” she said, adding that the renewed campaign seeks to encourage traders to comply with their tax obligations.
She said while customs endeavors to implement trade facilitation to attract more importing and exporting businesses to comply with customs laws, regulations and procedures, other efforts to discourage recalcitrant business entities from benefitting with wrongdoing are in top gear.
She spoke in Kwale County when she held a series of consultative meetings with cross border traders in the border towns of Lunga Lunga, Shimoni and Vanga near the border of Tanzania.
She said several one stop border posts have been established to boost trade by facilitating faster clearance of cargo, realize significant reduction in transport costs and ensure effective border control mechanisms are put in place.
“We are conducting these sensitization forums because we have also realized that some traders use illegal routes to sneak in goods into the country that do not necessarily attract import and excise duties due to ignorance,” she said.
“All traders who pass through our designated border points are expected to pay the rightful taxes in accordance with the customs laws and procedures,” Munyaka said.
She implored the traders to pay their taxes at the border points to enable the government to provide various development projects and social facilities to the people.
“We are holding intensive tax awareness forums for cross border traders in the country in order to equip them with more information and knowledge on various tax processes and procedures they need to follow at the various border stations,” she said.
She encouraged the border traders to embrace the series of consultative forums which she noted would go a long way in educating them on matters of taxation.
“We will be organizing regular consultative meetings with traders to identify and address factors that affect regional trade,” said Munyaka adding that there have been concerted efforts to combat tax evasion and fraud using intelligence and risk based forward looking enforcement.
Kwale Cross-Border Traders’ Association Chairman Simon Wambua commended KRA for the timely response in conducting the awareness campaign among the traders.
Wambua noted that through the sensitization forums they would be able to interact with custom officials and promptly resolve trade issues and challenges.
He noted that it would benefit them a lot since most of them are new and lack the requisite information necessary for the importing and exporting of goods.
“We welcome efforts to educate small-scale traders about key East African regional market requirements to ensure smooth cross border trade operations,” he said.
An Agricultural Produce Trader Ziporah Kamau complained of harassment, double taxation and trade barriers hampering free movement of goods and people at the border points.
“The flourishing cross border trade is threatened by the high market cess imposed and raises the cost of consumer goods dampening the spirit of the traders,” she said.
By Hussein Abdullahi