Kenya: Kakamega Governor opposes new sugarcane tax and low prices

Kakamega Governor Fernandez Barasa is strongly critical of the new sugar sector tax and falling cane prices, reported Star media.

Governor Barasa, who participated in Eid-Ul-Fitr celebrations with the Muslim community at Lugari Station Mosque, urged Members of Parliament to amend the relevant sections of the Finance Act, 2023, particularly those imposing additional taxes on farmers through registration on the e-TIMS platform.

Highlighting Kakamega County’s heavy reliance on farming, Governor Barasa warned of the significant negative impact the new tax regulations would have on the region. The directive mandates sugarcane farmers to provide e-TIMS invoices for every cane delivery to factories before receiving payment, a move contested by Barasa and other leaders from the Western region.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has made it compulsory for all sugarcane farmers to register on its tax payment platform, e-TIMS, starting from April 1, 2024. Non-compliance would bar farmers from selling their crops.

Governor Barasa criticized the directive, citing the technological limitations faced by many sugarcane farmers who lack access to smartphones. He called for the suspension of the new tax law, expressing concerns about its impact on farmers.

Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe echoed similar sentiments, urging KRA to halt the plan and proposing that taxes should be collected from companies instead of burdening farmers.

Likuyani MP Innocent Mugabe argued that the move would further strain the already burdened farmers, suggesting that the government explore alternative revenue sources beyond taxation.

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera indicated that MPs from Western Kenya would seek negotiations with the government to suspend the policy and devise a more effective mechanism.

Governor Barasa urged the cane pricing committee to reconsider its decision, advocating for an increase in the buying price to above Sh6,000 per tonne to ensure fair compensation for farmers. He also called on the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to revisit its pay decisions and raise cane prices to enable farmers to recover their investments.

The ceremony was attended by Deputy Governor Ayub Savula, MCAs led by the majority whip Benard Mulama, and county officials, among others.


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