Nairobi County assembly members have called on the executive to come clean on the money collected from taxes imposed on advertisements and billboards, claiming “cartels” have taken over the department.
Led by minority chief whip Peter Imwatok, the ward representatives questioned the authenticity of revenues posted by the sector with taxes from billboards erected along Jogoo and Langata roads coming into sharp focus.
Mr Imwatok claimed some county officers have been colluding with advertisers to avoid paying taxes on billboards within the city, hence denying the county much-needed revenue.
“If you compare the number of billboards erected to the flow of money coming in as revenue, they do not add up,” said Mr Imwatok, who is also the Makongeni Ward MCA.
He called on the executive to expose the cartels said to be working with traders to jeopardise the county’s revenue collection.
The MCAs, through a request for a statement, want both the Planning and the Budget and Appropriations committees to compel the executive to explain how the department operates in terms of revenue collection.
The two committees should also make sure the executive indicates the amount of revenue collected from the billboards and advertisement during the financial year ending June 30, 2019, as well as the steps being taken by the executive to ensure that outdoor advertisers remit to the county the requisite levies and what action is taken on those who evade payment.
“Advertisements and billboards are among the key revenue streams and it is critical that advertisers remit the requisite fees,” said Mr Imwatok in the statement.
Outdoor advertising is the fifth largest source of internal revenue for Nairobi County, bringing in some Sh700 million annually, but this has been dwindling with every passing year.
In the financial year ending June 30, 2019, billboards and advertising yielded Sh785 million against a target of Sh1 billion. In the 2017/2018 financial year it was Sh698.05 million, a drop from Sh720 million in the previous financial year.
In March, the city county said it was losing at least Sh15 million every month from unapproved billboards. Nairobi County has over 200,000 signage and over 1,000 large-format advertisements, which net City Hall a paltry Sh680 million annually against a potential of over Sh2 billion.
There has been an upsurge of outdoor advertisements on major thoroughfares such as Thika, Mombasa, Ngong, and Lang’ata roads as well as on Waiyaki Way.