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Condom tax fury

Experts have criticised levying of Value Added Tax on essential commodities and services.

Many Nairobians were taken aback last week on learning that condoms, mosquito nets, greenhouses, books, and computer software also fell in the VAT bracket.

Previously, many of these items were either zero-rated or exempt.

“One that really concerned us was tax on condoms. It is indeed sad, considering that the country has one of the highest population growth rates in the world and high incidents of HIV/Aids,” said Deloitte East Africa Tax Partner Nikhil Hira.

This is the reality that many low income households in the city are staring at.

The situation has led to public outcry since many families must change their way of doing things – for the worse.

“It is sad that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) surpasses its target on collections and at the same time hundreds of billions of shillings go down the drain. It is a shame for the government to tax the sick,” said Ms Judy Maranya.

Other items on which VAT is applicable include mobile phones, newspapers, journals and periodicals, charcoal, motorcycles, medical equipment, animal feeds and surprisingly, coffins, ambulances and buses.

Items or services that were zero-rated but now attract VAT include electricity and drilling boreholes.

“The state is encouraging tax evasion. Innovation won’t be stimulated while rural folks will not enjoy ICT,” said Victor Majani from the Kenya Alliance of Residents Associations governing council.

BERNADINE MUTANU, [email protected]