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February 17, 2019

A fresh look at the new harsh VAT law

In the last few days, Nairobi has been reeling under changes in the tax regime that have seen some goods that were once tax free being taxed. Prices of goods like milk, mobile phones, books and newspapers have gone up by 16 per cent overnight.

These changes have not been received well by many. Many Kenyans are already already struggling to make ends meet and this only means that there will be even more month at the end of their income. The people in the lowest income bracket will be hit hard which is not a good thing, whichever way you look at it.

I believe that as Nairobians, we should look at these changes in a positive light instead of complaining over every little thing.

Let us follow the lead of Members of Parliament who have acknowledged the opportunities these new prices have for us. Over 100 of them earlier in the week went to the Netherlands to follow the court proceedings in a little village called The Hague. The reality is that these MPs are from milk producing areas in the country. They were in fact there to study the Dutch dairy industry which is famed for producing some of the best milk in the world.

The government of Kenya has also been kind enough to recognise that when things go awry young people are affected the most. It has consequently launched something they call Uwezo Fund for people in the 18 to 35 age bracket as well as women. Those who want to buy the now-pricey milk and newspapers are advised to apply for Uwezo Fund lonas which have very reasonable interest rates.

The beauty of this system is that it allows you to learn the importance of paying one’s loans which can be an invaluable skill when one starts their business in future.

The new tax regime may also change the dating scene for ever. Ladies have been known to look at a man’s shoes to decide whether he is serious about grooming or not. This will not apply anymore. Henceforth, all a man will need to be taken seriously is a newspaper. Any newspaper! With this, anyone will be considered a serious suitor and he can now go about really impressing his lady friend.

The new couple, after failing to get their date screened on reality dating show, Tujuane, will start the evening with a visit to the bookshop where the lady can choose whichever book she wants. The more books a man can afford to buy for the lady, the better it is for him. Being in someone’s good books will finally mean something after all.

With the first part of the date done, the couple will then head to the hottest lounge in town to have a drink and get to know one another. This lounge will have some of the best wines and Scotch whisky or other alcoholic beverage one wishes for. However the discerning guy will ask the waiter to bring him the milk menu where they can see some of the best product in town. The best milk, which I assume will be from the areas of the MPs who are currently in Netherlands, will fetch the highest prices.

With such a show of seriousness on the first date, you can be sure that this couple will be on the fast track to marriage. The best thing about this is that now brideprice will no longer be seen just as a large amount of money paid to the bride’s parents. Instead, the uncle leading the negotiations will ask for a certain number of cows like in the old days as well as an expensive smartphone for the parents. Families who consider their daughter very valuable due to her upbringing, beauty and good schools won’t be averse to also demand a newspaper subscription for every year that the couple is married.


Venue review; Indaa Park, Industrial Area, Nairobi

Nairobi’s Industrial Area may not be the most beautiful part of the city, especially where architecture is concerned. But is is for a reason. This is the industrial heart of the city where most of what is consumed in the country is manufactured so architecture is the least of concerns here.

Last Saturday, I was in this neighbourhood at a place called Indaa Park. I was here to investigate the place with my significant other on something we like to call date night. The venue didn’t look like much on the outside with the red colour being the most prominent. As soon as we got in, I found out why it is called a park; it was a large place housing several buildings. The ground was covered with gravel, which worked well with the industrial feel of the place.

The small building in the centre had a huge poster announcing that Tony Nyadundo would be performing live on Friday. Inside the building was a counter and a small area with heavily branded seats. The price of my cold Tusker here is Sh150 which is not too bad compared to what some bars around town are charging for the same brand in this day and age.

To the right of this building was one of those old buses which had been converted into a shop for money transfer services. It hosts a cyber cafe as well. It’s not often that one finds a cyber cafe at a drinking establishment.

At the back of the place, there was another drinking area which was a bit bigger. It could even be the bar proper. There I found several Nairobians lounging on some comfortable seats and drinking to their fill. This area also had a counter and a TV. Sports fanatics will love that they can get to see their favourite stars in the European football leagues. There was a washroom to the left which I visited and was impressed as it was cleaner than I had expected.

The crowd here was your typical Nairobian from about age 30. This was probably because it is not one of those places that you can access by public transport.

A quick recap of the venue;

Good: Great service, disability friendly, emergency exits sorted, clean washrooms, access to money transfer services.

Bad: Inaccessible by public transport, decor could be improved.

My verdict: It is a great place to have a cold beer with the boys on a random weekend.

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