Uasin Gishu County Government is pursuing the abolishment of double taxes within the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) to reduce the cost of doing business for businesspeople within the county. This is in response to the recommendations from the Uasin Gishu Business Coalition during the County Dialogue Forum held in Eldoret.
The County Dialogue Forums are an ongoing initiative by business membership organizations to have structured dialogue with county governments in a bid to ensure that their recommendations are included in the counties Annual Development Plans (ADPs). The ADPs are legally enforced performance management framework for county governments. They detail prioritized projects and planned activities among other things for counties. The County Dialogue Forums in the first phase are being held in 7 counties namely Uasin Gishu, Machakos, Nakuru, Kisumu, Kiambu, Mombasa and Nairobi.
“We are working as Uasin Gishu county together with NOREB to ensure that business people within the county can easily do business between counties. An example is if a timber trader gets a business license in Uasin Gishu he/she can trade freely in Elgeyo Marakwet without paying more fees to distribute the timber,” said Millicent Okonjo, Economic Planning Chief Officer Uasin Gishu County.
North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) is an economic bloc consisting of 8 counties, which are Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Turkana and Baringo. The economic bloc seeks to leverage on economies of scale and expanded market among several counties. NOREB is one of the seven regional economic blocs, which have been established among the Counties in Kenya.
Businesses have decried the high cost of doing business as a result of having to pay double taxes between counties. These taxes include but are not limited to entry fees, distribution fees, export certificates and branding fees among several others.
“When devolution took place every county in it’s quest to generate revenue begun to tax everything which has hindered the growth of business. For example, if I have a business permit in one county it only covers one county. If you cross over into another county you have to pay for another business permit. It is important that we have single business permits for use across counties so as to attract and retain investment,” said William Ong’are, Vice Chair Kenya Association of Manufacturers North Rift Chapter.
The Chairman of the Uasin Gishu Business Coalition, Willy Kenei expressed confidence in the county’s goodwill to include their issues in the annual development plan saying “We are excited as the business community in Uasin Gishu because the County Government is taking into consideration our issues especially because we are a coalition. Previously the engagements have been done by individual BMOs advocating for their own issues but now we are confident that as a coalition our business issues will be acted upon with seriousness and speed.”
Economic Planning Chief Officer Uasin Gishu County, Millicent Okonjo also lauded the County Dialogue Forums by the private sector and urged the business community to be more involved in the public participation process when the county Government advertises the opportunity so as to ensure that their needs and interests are always captured in the ADPs.
She went on to say that they will look into other issues which were raised by the coalition such as consolidating business licenses into one single business license so as to make it convenient for businesspeople.
The business membership organizations under the Uasin Gishu Business Coalition include the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), National Tax Payers Association, Uasin Gishu Jua Kali Association and the Grainbelt Cereal Millers Association.