BY PSCU and MWAKERA MWAJEFA
The Government will vet and register all import and export cargo consolidators to root out tax evaders, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi today (May 27), Nairobi, the President faulted the consolidators for contributing to the delays in the clearance of containers at the depot.
The meeting agreed that only genuine consolidators gazetted after the vetting process will be allowed to work with the small scale traders in the import/export business.
“There are people who engage in consolidation. They bring goods in containers, claiming they are transit goods while their real motive is to evade paying tax. That is not right and we will not allow it,” he said.
President Kenyatta, who paid a second visit to the ICD in a span of two days, assured small scale traders that their goods will be cleared on time once they adhere to the laid down procedures.
“Many times our traders operate without knowledge of the government procedures and we would like all boardroom decisions disseminated to the traders,” he added.
However, he warned importers that the government will not relent in its efforts to stem out the importation of counterfeit goods into the country.
The Head of State said counterfeits were a major hindrance to the development of local the manufacturing sector thereby denying millions of young Kenyans employment opportunities.
Yesterday (May 26), President Kenyatta made an impromptu inspection visit of the ICD during which he called for an urgent stakeholders meeting to resolve the cargo impasse at the facility.
The stakeholders meeting was held today (May 27) and attended by the President.
During the meeting, it was established that the delay in the clearing and release of the close to 1000 containers was largely due to insufficient paperwork including cargo that is destined for the local market that was declared as export goods by deceitful importers in attempts to evade paying requisite taxes.
As a way forward, the stakeholder meeting, that brought together all state and nonstate agencies operating at the terminal, resolved to have the containers processed and released to the owners within two to three weeks.
The meeting also agreed to institute reform measures that will reduce cargo clearance period at the depot to a maximum of 4 days.
During the Sunday afternoon impromptu visit, the Head of State, who was accompanied by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i (Interior Security CS) and his principal secretary Karanja Kibicho.
The unit heads of the multi-agency team leading the crackdown on counterfeit goods was shown the disputed containers mostly containing items belonging to different traders but consolidated under several importers.
The unannounced visit was prompted by growing complaints by importers, some of whom had reached to him directly, of delays in the processing and release of cargo at the terminal.