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2019-20 BUDGET

Fishermen, farmers cry foul after let-down by Treasury

Boda-boda riders say they will have to increase fares to cover insurance

In Summary

• Fishermen say Rotich should have zero-rated the importation of boat engines.

• Cane farmers fault the government for failing to reintroduce the Sugarcane Development Levy.

Treasury CS Henry Rotich
BUDGET: Treasury CS Henry Rotich
Image: ENOS TECHE

Fishermen, boda-boda riders and cotton farmers are disappointed at the budget delivered on Thursday by National Treasury CS Henry Rotich. They say it is prohibitive and could worsen their suffering. 

In the fishing sector, Rotich allocated Sh800 million to be used in improving landing sites.

Despite the allocation, Lake Victoria Beach Management Unit chairman Tom Guda on Friday said Rotich should have zero-rated the importation of boat engines.

 
 

“Fishermen have difficulties getting timber for making boats because the government had banned logging in the country,” he said.

They had also hoped that the government would do away with the 16 per cent VAT on fishing gears. 

Guda also criticised the government for failing to allocate funds to the Kenya Marketing Authority and the Kenya Fish Trust Fund. 

“These are critical areas that would ensure a great improvement in the fishing sector,” he said.

As fishermen made their dissatisfaction clear, farmers too had their worries. 

The government allocated Sh700 million to clear all debts owed to sugarcane farmers. They were owed Sh2.7 billion, but the government had released Sh2 billion in a bailout plan for the struggling public mills.

For its part, however, the Kenya National Federation of Sugarcane Farmers welcomed the Sh700 million but faulted the government for failing to reintroduce the Sugarcane Development Levy.

 

Secretary general Ezra Okoth said the levy would ensure an increased cane production. He wants the Sh700 million released swiftly to factories so farmers can get their cash.

“It’s good the government has fulfilled the promise that would make farmers have a clean balance sheet. But it was important for it to look at areas that would make the supply of canes sustainable,” Okoth said.

He added that the government should have considered more sugarcane mills to create jobs for the youth.

“The sugar subsector generates a lot of revenues to the government, hence it should be given the attention it deserves."

South Nyanza cotton farmers also found it difficult to come to terms with the budget. While the government allocated Sh1.1 billion for the development of textile and leather industrial parks, chairman John Akoko said the budget hit them hard.

He said the budget should have included plans to build a factory in the region, adding that the cotton sector as a critical component of the textile industry. 

“Cotton growers from this region find it hard to access factories. They have to go to Salawa in Meru county,” Akoko said.

Homa Bay boda-boda riders also protested what they termed as a prohibitive decision on insurance. Chairman Ken Dede said some of them might be forced to increase passenger charges to enable them to recover the money. 

Boda-bodas and tuk-tuks have been operating without insurance. Ironically, the sector has been mired in road accidents that have claimed many lives and left many others maimed. From now, they will be required to cover their passengers.  

The proposal has not augured with sector players. 

“The boda-boda sector is flooded. We get meager profits, hence we consider increasing fare to get the money for insurance registrations,” Dede said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)