City Hall hits Nairobi traders with heavy licensing burden
Nairobi traders, already under pressure to secure trading permits by the March 31 deadline, have been hit by a sharp increase in annual licence fees, undermining efforts to improve ease of doing business in the city.
The traders said the county government’s decision to bundle the licences has more than doubled the trading permit burden and reversed recent gains in reducing the cost of doing business.
BUSINESS PERMIT FEE
The single business permit fee increase has hit small businesses hardest, forcing them to pay up to three times what they paid last year.
An eatery located on the city’s Moi lane (between Moi Avenue and Tom Mboya Street) with a seating capacity of about five customers, for example, paid Sh10,000 last year for annual permit, but is required to renew the same for Sh31,000 this year.
Taxi operators, who paid Sh7,000 permit fees last year, are now required to pay up Sh11,200.
Small shops that paid about Sh5,000 last year are now required to pay between Sh9,500 and Sh13,700, according to current billings.
The Nairobi county government said the increase is the result of consolidation of charges that traders were not paying for before, including signage fees (advertising) and fire certificates.
Nairobi County Executive Committee Member for Trade, Industrialisation, Co-operative Development and Tourism Anna Othoro said the traders have not been paying some licence fees and that the new billing system does not amount to an increase.
“There has been no increase in licensing fees. The fire licence and advertising signage are mandatory by law and have always been charged. Many business people have not been paying for them. When we pooled together all the licences into the unified business permit, it now means the businesses have to pay all licences due to the county,” Ms Othoro said.
The unified licence regime was launched last year but was to come into force this year. Many traders have, however, been caught unawares and are questioning the county government’s increased appetite for cash, while there is little to show in terms of improved services.
Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary-general Stephen Mutoro termed the increase in licence fees burden “unjustified and counterproductive” as it would translate itno a general increase in the cost of consumer goods and services despite the poor quality of services residents are getting from the city government.
“There has been an outcry over the increases disguised as a lumping together of many taxes, but in reality there is no connection between these higher fees and improved services. More taxation only ends up in increased cost of doing business and eventually higher prices to the consumers. It has also come at such a wrong time when people are facing financial hardship,” said Mr Mutoro.
Traders said they would pass on the additional expenses to consumers.
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