• High levies discouraging traders who vow to change leadership
• Two aspirants seeking chairmanship
Alleged overcharging of traders by Embu County government has become a weapon for aspirants vying for seats in Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) election.
Two aspirants seeking chairmanship in the KNCCI Embu Chapter elections have said the county government charges traders very high rates, levies, licenses, and other service charges.
Jonstone Nyaga , a hotelier, and John Mate, a contractor, are both vying for the business lobby's chairmanship in Embu.
The two have locked horns in the race after the outgoing chairman Samuel Kanyi opted out of county chairmanship to vie for Eastern region chairmanship.
They have both been claiming that the trading licenses, rates, levies and other services fees that traders pay to the government are too exorbitant, further adding that despite the high charges the county government has not been giving out services commensurate to them.
The duo in their separate campaign meetings have been telling business people that they will ensure reduction of charges and rendering of services which match what they pay and the revenue they generate.
“One thing that I must say is that business people feel they are being overcharged, thus paying too much for the services they are getting. As much as we are not saying we want the rates to be reduced we want services commensurate with what we are paying,” said Nyaga.
He told the Star that he wants to create a better working relationship with the county government where the KNCCI will be in a position to seat with the government and negotiate over issues concerning the traders and coming up with a joint solution.
“Various charges the county government is asking from traders in Embu have tripled since last year forcing many to close down their businesses. I will fight for their reduction so that as many traders as possible can do business and generate much revenue than having a few rich businessmen paying high charges but producing little revenue,” said Mate.
He said he will lead his team in sitting with the government to negotiate for the reduced charges and if not he will be lobbying intensively until the government succumbs to traders’ demands adding that the services that the government offers do not match with the taxes they pay.
Nyaga on the other hand is calling for revival of what he calls Trade Loans Joint Board which used to help small scale traders and farmers to get affordable business’ loans but after devolution came in it disappeared.
Mate said he would also fight for the empowerment of youth and women through facilitating for entrepreneurship training and financing by the government or through pooling funds together to enable traders to form saccos.
Both Nyagah and Mate protested what they termed as awarding of most contracts by the county government to outsiders promising to ensure KNCCI is involved and ensuring the contracts go to local people and vetting of rogue contractors.
However when contacted for comments trade and tourism Executive David Kariuki said the charges are not exorbitant noting that before they are put in place they are subjected to public participation.
Kariuki further said contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder without considering where one comes from in order to avoid wasting of the public’s money.