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Counties should not impose unfair taxes

Saturday August 17 2019

taxes

Take the county of Nairobi, for example, which has proposed a Sh25 tax for every chicken a resident brings from upcountry. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GLADYS BURINI
By GLADYS BURINI
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It truly baffles me the lengths county governments are going to in the name of devolution.

While we accept devolution’s goal is to bring services closer to the people, it appears to be at a great cost to us.

Take the county of Nairobi, for example, which has proposed a Sh25 tax for every chicken a resident brings from upcountry.

Just think about that for a minute; isn’t this a form of import duty? It is likely that on your journey to Nairobi, you will cross other counties along the way.

What if other counties, recognising those on transit are crossing their 'county borders', impose the same tax?

Will this end here or will counties go even further and impose any fees and duty on other animals and areas that we already pay to the country?

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Nairobi County is also proposing to tax cat and dog owners Sh1,000 for the companionship and inspection of the said animals. You may want to rethink your county of residence and pet options.

JUSTIFY

Requiring residents to pay more taxes is also begging the question: what is it that the capital budget of Sh32.2 billion could not meet that residents must fork out more money to meet those obligations?

More to the point, what cost is the county government bearing by a resident bringing animals into their home that they should be taxed for it?

I have never known a county to meet its residents’ animal husbandry needs, so this would be a first.

Is it any wonder President Uhuru Kenyatta has held his ground by refusing to dish out more money to counties when they have not shown how the previous resources have been used?

This is no surprise considering every Auditor General’s report speaks of questionable resource use, but for Makueni County.

We understand there is a need for immediate resources by county governments, but while we support ingenuity, residents should not be the collateral that meets the funds withheld by Treasury.

ACCOUNTABILITY

While a county government is a government in its own right, this two-tier system is not meant to impose punitive measures on the residents.

We are not here to cover your shortfall, neither are we your residents to mismanage along with those resources.

Our expectations are for you to use the resources we have paid for through the nationally assigned taxes and provide us with services that are accessible and of the highest standard.

Surely, anyone can see that the state of our hospitals and schools is enough to protest granting counties more resources directly from our own pockets when they don’t have much to show for it.

Before governors get ahead of themselves and start running counties like mini-countries, are you meeting all your devolved functions?

If you are not, then don’t ask residents to make intolerable sacrifices when you are not serving them as you should.

Until you meet all their obligations and to the proper standard, then maybe we can talk about you running a county like a mini-country with borders.

Ms Burini focuses on children’s issues; [email protected]

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