Traders stop miraa export to Mogadishu over tax dispute

Sunday February 26 2017

Miraa (khat) traders sort their produce for the market. Somalia has threatened to re-impose a ban on miraa from Kenya. PHOTO / FILE

Miraa (khat) traders sort their produce for the market. Traders have stopped exporting miraa to Mogadishu over tax dispute. PHOTO / FILE  

By DAVID MUCHUI
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Miraa traders in Kenya have boycotted exporting miraa to Mogadishu, Somalia, over tax dispute.

The traders are protesting a move by the Mogadishu local government to increase tax on miraa.

The three-day boycott is now threatening to take its toll on miraa farmers as traders are forced to ship all the produce to other parts of Somalia.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said the Mogadishu authorities had increased the tax from Sh309 ($3) to Sh360.5 ($3.5) per kilo of khat.

He said Mogadishu, the largest miraa export market, takes in about 50 tonnes of miraa daily, valued at more than Sh100 million.

“We cannot export miraa to Mogadishu because we cannot transfer the extra cost to the consumers. The final price of miraa in Mogadishu is fixed by the traders meaning the new tax burden will be taken in by the traders,” Mr Munjuri said.

He said the prices for miraa were already high due to low supply form farmers.

“The new taxes are applicable at Mogadishu airport. Most of the miraa is now going to Galkayo and Bosaso where the taxes have not changed. Traders will not export to Mogadishu until the authorities back down,” he said.

Mr Munjuri lamented that the Somalia authorities have been giving hasty directives that have hurt the business severally.

“Miraa traders do not get prior communication on changes that have significant impact on the business. We learn of new directives once the cargo planes land in Mogadishu or while we are preparing to transport,” he said.

He said they also suffered losses during the presidential elections in Somalia after orders of about 50 tons of miraa were cancelled.

“Meru is paying dearly for every shiver in Somalia. The presidential elections in Somalia cost us millions of shillings. The Kenyan government should move with speed and state its position on miraa business with Somalia,” he said.

Mr Munjuri also called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to release the Miraa Taskforce report to address the problems facing farmers.
“We are concerned that despite the president promising that the report would be out three weeks ago, nothing is forthcoming,” he said.

Miraa Taskforce Chairman Nchooro M’Mwenda said the report is ready and would be given to the President any time.