Miraa traders protest harsh county cess charges

Saturday, January 28th, 2023 05:30 | By
Miraa trader. PHOTO/Courtesy

Khat (miraa) and muguka traders have protested plans by Mombasa county government to double cess charges on the two stimulants.

The traders are now seeking the intervention of Meru and Embu governors Kawira Mwangaza and Cecily Mbarire, as well as Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi and Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi.

According to the traders, Mombasa County, through a proposed Finance Bill of 2022/2023, will increase the cess charged on khat from a flat rate of Sh45,000 per vehicle to up to Sh80,000.

In the new cess schedule, the county intends to charge Sh80,000 for a lorry ferrying more than seven tonnes and Sh50,000 for a lorry weighing less than seven tonnes. A three-tonne lorry will pay Sh30,000, a pick-up Sh20,000 and a handcart Sh10,000.

Another Sh1,500 shall be charged on muguka per box and Sh1,200 per sack of miraa if the bill is passed by the county assembly.

 Muguka Association secretary-general Ian Mwobobia termed the increase exorbitant.

“It is public knowledge that muguka and miraa traders have been victims of harassment and punitive taxes by Mombasa County since 2018. The taxes increase by more than 150 percent every year. This is despite the county government imposing levies on offloading, transportation and trading,” Mwobobia states.

He said khat is overcharged by more than 100 percent when compared to other agricultural products. Mwobobia warned hefty cess would kill many businesses not only in Mombasa but also Embu and Meru.

 He noted governor Abdulswamad Nassir had the courtesy to call traders for a meeting but none of their proposals were factored in the Finance Bill.

He said when the traders tried to reach out to the governor in December, he referred them to the County Assembly yet the Bill originated from the Executive.

John Mbijiwe a miraa trader from Meru pointed out that increase in taxes will kill their business.

Miraa farmers have been facing a lot of challenges such as ban of miraa trade in European markets, hence imposing extra charges will be killing it,” he said and called on the county government to review the levies downwards so that traders can remain in business.

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