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Clearing directive stays, asserts KRA

NAIROBI, November 3 – The Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General Michael Waweru has insisted that a directive stopping clearing and forwarding agents from operating at the port of Momabas beginning November 1 still stands.

This is despite protests by the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) of the order, which was initially made by Acting Finance Minister John Michuki in September while on tour of the port.

In a statement sent to the newsroom, Mr Waweru cautioned that agents who had threatened not to remit tax to KRA due to this directive would incur automatic penalties.

“Compliance with this government directive will be a key licensing consideration for clearing and forwarding services going forward,” he pointed out adding: “Any clearing agent, who does not comply with the directive, will face the necessary sanctions, including deregistration.”

He however noted that a number of clearing agents were willing to comply with the governments’ directive and advised importers to deal only with the agents willing to comply, to avoid unnecessary penalties and delays.

Mr Waweru further noted that KRA would explore mechanisms to allow Authorised Economic Operators (institutions that have proven to be consistently compliant and are thus accorded certain privileges) to undertake self clearance.

He called on any clearing agents who were unhappy with the directive, to take up the matter with the government instead of resulting to a conduct which was tantamount to blackmail, and with far reaching implications.

Mr Waweru’s statement comes in the wake of a tussle between the KRA Commissioner for Customs office and KIFWA on the directive by the Minister that agents carry out their activities away from the port and take advantage of the automated clearance system.

In a letter addressed to port managers on October 17, KRA Commissioner for Customs Wambui Namu had indicated that failure to comply with the order would lead to licence revocation as  clearly stated by the Commissioner General in today’s statement.

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While issuing the directive the minister had observed that since the Kilindini Port and KRA had automated their operations there was no need for any human contact given that every transaction could be done on line.

But the agents through their association had expressed concern that the directive could paralyse their operations.

Last week KIFWA officials had indicated plans for a meeting this week to deliberate on the new KRA orders and its impact on their business.

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