MPs summon KRA officials over tax on travellers’ personal items worth Ksh.75K

The National Assembly’s Finance and Planning Committee has summoned senior management of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over its latest bid to institute taxation measures on personal or household items whether new or used being brought into the country.

The committee expressed alarm by complaints lodged on social media over alleged harassment of tourists by KRA officials who demand tax from anyone bringing in items worth USD 500 (Ksh.75,425) and above.

While acknowledging that KRA was within its right under the East African Community Customs Management Act 2010, the committee Chairman said a review of the law was necessary.

“We cannot continue to send people away when we need to continue giving them morale. The tourism sector is becoming very competitive around the world, we must be cautious,” Finance Committee Chair Kuria Kimani said.

Kuria said they will be reviewing the East African Community Customs Management Act 2010 with a view of amending the controversial proposals to make them more friendly.

“As we’re trying to resuscitate the economy, we need better treatment of taxpayers, If there is need to review the law and make sure we maintain Kenya as a tourist destination of choice, then we are seized of the matter,” he stated.

According to Kuria, the law applies to all East African Community countries but only Kenya is enforcing its proposals. The committee worried that this will make Kenya less attractive to tourists and investors.

“There is a need to review the regulations to ensure they are in tandem with our neighbours so that we don't become less competitive. Mombasa is competing with Zanzibar, Maasai Mara with the Serengeti…it is important that we ensure that regulation doesn’t make us lose ground,” he added.

The post by KRA on social media has caused an uproar, forcing the authority to delete it.

The committee will also seek to address other tax related concerns raised by Kenyans.

The Chair spoke during a committee session where State Department for Planning Principal Secretary James Muhatia defended their bid not to have their budget slashed saying it would cripple national building plans.

The committee is further concerned that various State agencies and departments were not performing optimally indicated that they would initiate an audit to ensure tax payers money was not lying idle.

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KRA National Assembly Finance and Planning Committee

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