The Kitui County Government recently passed the Kitui County Finance Act no. 5 of 2014 on the 5th of December 2014. The Act has increase in ranges in rates and charges from 100% – 625%. This was done without prior consultation and participation by the Kitui County public.
The proposed increases have a ripple effect on the business community in the County of Kitui as the Act threatens to close down businesses and increase the cost of goods and services in the County. The Act includes charges that amount to double and even triple taxation. For instance, a timber yard business owner has increases on the rent charged for the premise, the cost charged on the permit and the cost charged on his tools of trade such as lorry and pick up trucks. That in itself is triple increase in taxation.
As a matter of fact, the business community was not consulted contrary to clear Constitutional provisions on public participation before the Act was gazetted. There were attempts by the County government to advertise for public participation but the same were inadequate and ineffective.
These increases in charges and rates have caused a public outcry leading to demonstrations in Kitui County against the County government.
The County government budging to pressure postponed the operation of the Act pending review. This attempt was however a gimmick to downplay the public outbursts as the Act has not been degazetted to date. In addition to this, the demands issued by the County government have not been revoked yet interest at 3% accrues from the 31st March 2015 with a threat of forcefully closing down of the defaulting businesses by the Kitui County government.
With this in mind, the Kitui business community together with the Kenya National Chamber Commerce and Industry Kitui Chapter, on the 10th of March 2015 sought for counsel, hence instructing Kituo cha Sheria to move to court to suspend the operation of the Finance Act no. 5 of 2014.
On the 25th of March 2015, Kituo cha Sheria represented by Dr. John Khaminwa, lead counsel and Mr. Nzioka Simon appeared before Hon. Justice B. Jaden for a motion application that the matter be certified as urgent, that the Kitui Finance Act be suspended, that a temporary injunction forbidding collection of the new rates and charges by the County government and its agents be granted.
The Honourable Judge obliged to certify the application as urgent but nonetheless instructed the Petitioners to serve the County government of Kitui and the Hon. Attorney General that they may appear for a hearing on the application on the 27th of March 2015 at 10:00am.
Kimani Rucuiya- Kituo cha Sheria