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Central Governors ease trade tariffs to accelerate economic growth

Governors from the central Kenya Region Economic Bloc have agreed to eliminate trade tariffs for a range of products.

The governors of Laikipia, Nyeri, Nakuru and Kiambu counties have waived fees on agricultural produce, mining and manufactured goods produced and sold in any of the three counties on a reciprocal basis.

Representatives from the four counties are meeting in Nanyuki town to develop protocols for the free trade area.

The objective of easing tariffs is to raise the market share of goods and services coming from the bloc, which has ten member counties whose economy is estimated at Ksh.2.7 trillion.

But will begin first by raising the market share of goods and services originating from within the bloc to grow the region’s trade by Ksh.130 billion.

Tariffs being negotiated include distribution fees for manufactured goods, transit and market fees for mining and agricultural goods.

The expected outcome is accelerated growth and retention of income generated by businesses originating in the counties, starting this October.

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CEREB also proposed to review and harmonize the licensing regimes, the definition of terms, rates and units of measurement/assessment; consider reduction and/or waiver of distribution fees and branded vehicles selling manufactured goods originating from a member County.

“The proof of origin will be a single business permit issued by a CEREB-member county government.”

Also for consideration is the reduction and removal of cess and all levies on agricultural products originating from member-counties based on a traceability system to prove they are from a member county.

CEREB also mulls waiving restrictions for transporters of passengers and goods operating within member counties provided the business has a business permit originating from a member county. The transporters will pay parking fees.

Protocol undertaken

The County Executive Committees are also expected to consider a structure for sharing revenues to compensate for revenues lost from these concessions and effect these resolutions in the CEREB-member counties beginning with Finance Bills for 2021/2022.

To recommend the concessions, Finance CECMs will integrate their revenue management systems to verify the origin of the beneficiary businesses.

They will also constitute sectoral technical meetings which will lead stakeholder engagements to work out details of the implementation of the aforementioned recommendations. The Committee is expected to be constituted immediately.

The team hopes to complete negotiations for protocols covering all other sectors within 24 months.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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