The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will not collect any taxes on behalf of the Mombasa County government unless such taxes are sanctioned by the national government, Danson Mungatana, KPA chairman told Baraka FM on Monday.
The County government, in its 2014/2015 finance bill, introduced new levies on all imports and exports passing through the port of Mombasa, and said that such taxes would be collected on its behalf by port managers at the KPA.
But Mungatana, while terming the proposed levies as unrealistic, also said any levies collected by the port had to be authorised by the transport and infrastructure ministry.
“How can we do that? We cannot just wake up and decide to impose new taxes on port users. We will be sued,” Mungatana told Baraka FM in an exclusive interview.
He disapproved the proposed new levies saying they would make the cost of doing business at the port too expensive and drive traders away from the port.
“They (County government) needed to consult with stakeholders first, otherwise we will make our port very unattractive and uncompetitive for business, and it is we who will suffer when we lose business to other regional ports.”
He said the county government needed to engage the national government on such matters, and that it was impossible for the proposed levies to be implemented.
The finance bill will be operational once passed by the county assembly, and has suggested several levies that have set the Mombasa County administration and the business community on a collision course, with the latter claiming it amounted to double taxation.
The bill proposes a levy of $20 (kshs.1780) per tonne for export permits, $20 per tonne for import clearance and $60 (kshs.5340) for vessel inspection every time a ship docks at the port.
Vessels with upto 1000 gross tonnes will pay $60 while those with over 30,000 gross tonnes will pay $300 (kshs.26,700), the bill proposes.
Port users will also pay $60 for compulsory spraying of vessels against vectors and $20 for compulsory fumigation on all ships docking at the port.
Shipping lines have also been hit, with the bill proposing a Transport Infrastructure Development Levy of $2.00 (kshs.178) per metric ton or $10.00 (Kshs.890) per shipment, to be levied on all marine cargo passing through the port.
All these taxes, the bill proposes, are to be collected on behalf of the county government by the port management as soon as the bill is passed by the county assembly.
The Mombasa County has been pushing to control stakes at the port, and wants the port to share some its proceedings with the county.