Igwamiti ward residents have decried the hefty fees charged by Laikipia County government even as the revenue board proposed to cast its nets wider to increase its revenue base.
The Board that collected Sh815 million against its target of Sh800 million last financial year, proposed to maximize on the registration permits for start-up businesses, a move that did not impress the residents.
The residents, majority who ran their businesses in Nyahururu town, were against raising the revenues claiming this would lead to low-profit margins that would, in the long run, kill their business.
Francis Jerab, a member of the business community in Nyahururu said: “increasing the business registration permit from Sh200 to Sh500 would be unfair since there were other licenses and fees that one has to pay in order to operate any business in the county”.
“We cannot be paying for health, fire and garbage and still afford to pay for the registration permit at that amount unless the amount will cater for all those charges,” Jerab said.
In defence, the Board’s Chief Executive Officer Ms Prudence Waithera said that the county had not changed the registration permit since 2009 and it was a high time to increase the revenue for the betterment of Laikipia County.
County Revenue and accountability survey by the Consortium of Researchers on Governance, last week, ranked Governor Ndiritu Muriithi second-best governor based on his local revenue collection.
The county that collected more from its land rates, parking fees and tourism has digitized its revenue collection with fees payments done through mobile money transfer.
“Laikipia is still a hardship area and increasing the revenue would just kill our business and those intending to start businesses will find it very difficult,” said Anthony Wagura.
The residents also urged the county government to consolidate the fees to avert multiple charges imposed on a single business.
A supermarket owner Mr Richard Kosgei said the “single business permit should cater for all other charges that may arise into a business to avoid confusion”.
Curio shop owners near Thomson Falls lamented that increasing the entrance fee at the fall to Sh70 from Sh50 would reduce the number of local tourists leading to the closure of many businesses that depended on them.
“Please! Please! Don’t charge more on tourists, they come all the way from Nyeri heading to Nakuru and skip Nyahururu because of the high charges as entrance fee to the falls. When you increase the fee, no one will ever stop here,” said Ms Agnes Njoki.
Area Deputy County Commissioner Mr Patrick Muli asked residents to cooperate with the board and accept to pay the revenues claiming that the living standards have improved.
“Stop the cartels and pay taxes duly. Let’s not steal from ourselves,” said Muli adding that it was for the betterment of Laikipia’s future.
On completion the residents together with the revenue board agreed that boda boda operators in the region must pay revenue in order to operate the business, the operators will be required to pay Sh300 per month.