The business community in Mandera has opposed the new levies proposed by the county government to be effected in the 2018/2019 financial year.
Led by their chairman, Mr Abdille Sheikh Billow, the Mandera traders termed the new levies as exorbitant and way beyond their reach.
“We have deliberated on the new proposed levies and we have come to a conclusion that we will all not pay until a mutual agreement is reached between us and the county government,” said Mr Billow.
According to him, the Mandera County government drafted the proposal without consulting all stakeholders and specifically the business community.
“There was nothing like public participation for this Bill that increased the levies we have been paying to the county,” said Mr Billow.
He argued that the 2018/2019 Finance Bill did not meet the legal requirement since all stakeholders were not involved.
“We demand that this Bill be revised and a fresh public participation be carried out by the right people,” he said.
His deputy, Mr Abdirahim Sheikh Issack, asked the county government to suspend the implementation of the levies law until a consensus is reached.
“We ask the county government to continue collecting revenues based on the previous law until all outstanding issues are ironed out,” he said.
In the new law, the county government increased a single business permit fee from Sh7,000 to Sh13,000.
Quarry owners will now be paying Sh50,000 for permits from the county government up from Sh20,000.
“Quarrying was closed in Mandera by the national government and it is surprising that the county government is asking us to pay Sh50,000 for permits and another Sh7,000 for every trip from the mines,” lamented Mr Alio Madey.
Bus owners plying the Mandera-Nairobi route will pay Sh15,000 for their permits up from Sh5,000.
At the slaughterhouse managed by the county government, butchers will pay Sh1,100 for every camel slaughtered, Sh600 for every cattle and Sh225 for each goat they slaughter.
But in response, Mr Abdirahman Alio, the chairman of the Mandera County Assembly Budget Committee, urged the business community to understand the situation the county is operating under.
“I don’t see anything wrong with that Bill and our people need to understand that these monies will still come back to them in one way or the other,” he said.
He said all sub-counties in Mandera except Mandera East have accepted the new levies.
“It is surprising to see that it is only the Mandera East business community that is complaining when other sub-counties have accepted the changes,” he said.
According to Mr Alio, the new levies aim at increasing local revenue.
“Local revenue is a determinant in distributing funds to counties by the national treasury and we have to achieve it,” he said.
But the business community threatened to seek legal redress if Governor Ali Roba’s administration fails to address their concerns.