Governors raise alarm over multiple business licences

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 04:54 | By
Governor Gladys Wanga signs one of the first waves of investment memoranda at the Homa Bay International Investment Conference. PHOTO/Print
Governor Gladys Wanga signs one of the first waves of investment memoranda at the Homa Bay International Investment Conference. PHOTO/Print

Governors have decried the existence of multiple licences in the country, saying the regulatory requirement is killing businesses and frustrating investments in counties.

They said harmonisation or merging of some of the licences would help create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and to spur domestic economic growth.

Governor James Orengo (Siaya), Paul Otuoma (Busia) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) who spoke yesterday during the second day of the Homa Bay International Investment Conference 2024 noted that seeking licences from several departments not only hurts businesses but also eats up their profits.

‘’We want the national government to sort this issue of multiplicity of licensing,’’ Orengo said during the three-day event under the theme “Unlocking the Bay of Endless Potential.”

Other governors, Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Simba Arati (Kisii) and former Murang’a County boss Mwangi wa Iria also echoed the concerns, adding that investors have been crying because of the long and costly process of acquiring and paying for the permits.

Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang said they were tackling the matter in the legislative house following concerns from many investors who face multiple licensing, especially in outdoor services. He called on the national government also to reduce tariff barriers to attract more investors.

The governors said harmonised licensing would attract new investments and spur domestic economic growth and boost the counties domestic product.

Speaking during the conference opening, President William Ruto said counties was the focal point for devolution growth and when they are efficiently run, they will accelerate development. He told governors to rethink their strategy and management models that will stimulate growth.

Ruto gave a thumbs-up to Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga for improving the county’s own-source revenue. Homa Bay County revenue has steadily risen from the initial Sh190 million to Sh700 million this financial year.

The President noted that the governor was keen on growing revenue and plough back the earnings in development projects. “This is the same thing that I am also trying to do at the national level and some people are complaining,’’ Ruto said, adding that the country can only run well, when they raise enough revenue and spend it on development projects.

Austerity measures

“It is the reason I am asking good Kenyans to try and help me raise more money to serve them well,’’ said the President.

“Governor Wanga has told me here that he is now targeting to hit Sh1billion this financial year due to the austerity measures they have put in place to curb revenue seepage. This is the way,’’ he said

When Wanga came into office, the revenue was not more than Sh190 million.This is despite the counties projected statistics showing that it could collect up to Sh1. 2 billion or more.

“We had to trace and seal the loop holes,’’ explained Wanga, disclosing that she set up a revenue board and tasked them to make sure that they carry out systematic audits of revenue sources.

“This, they did well and, established where the leakages stem from and sealed them off. I am sure if we trend this way, Homa Bay County’s image must change. Because we will spend the money in development. No doubt,’’ she said.

The revenue streams of the county include among others health facilities, land rates, transport sector, small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Homa Bay County Government is using the cashless method to collect revenue as one of the ways to prevent loss of money by the collectors. The governors called for harmonious revenue collection system to avoid a clash with National Treasury over revenue collection modes.

Already, the governors have rejected a Bill seeking to anchor in law county governments revenue systems to shore up their collections. According to the public finance management (Amendment), Bill, 2023, the counties will be required by law to work with Kenya Revenue Authority, in automating their revenue collections systems and to develop new systems.

But the governors scoffed at the new law, saying its rooting for what most of them have already done. Most counties have already established their own source revenue collections systems, which defies the essence of the Bill.

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