Clearing agents warn of strike, want licences

Clearing and forwarding agents have threatened to paralyze operations in the country if the Kenya Revenue Authority fails to address a license stand-off. This is after the KRA maintained it will not renew the agents’ customs agents’ licenses for 2017.

The taxman has rolled out a raft of new regulations and fresh vetting procedures which the agents have dismissed as “a move by cartels colluding with Commissioner General John Njiraini, to frustrate small companies and push them out of business.”

Under their umbrella body, the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association, more than 1,200 members gave want KRA to renew their licenses unconditionally or they will be forced to paralyse the sector.

“The executive officer was called and I hope there will be a way forward. KRA has remained silent in this issue,” KIFWA national chairman William Ojonyo said.

The newly elected officials took office last week. During the elections on Thursday at the Unity Club,Nairobi, the over 200 directors representing more than 1,000 clearing companies gave KRA a 24 hour ultimatum to issue them with licenses or ground their tools.

They have accused customs officials of favoring multinationals in fraudulently obtaining exemptions and direct release from treasury, which they use to evade tax.

Njiraini has also been accused of conspiring to kill Small and Medium Enterprises, while protecting multinationals “in which he has interest”, especially in securing the lucrative Standard Gauge Railway business.KRA could not be reached for comment.

 Ojonyo warned the taxman of revenue loses if licenses are not issued immediately. Road, sea and air cargo entry points will be affected should they ground their tools, with the taxman loosing up to Sh3 billion.

Ojonyo said Kifwa’s national delegate council is however keen to reinstate good working relationships with partners. Section 145 and 149 of the East African Community Customs Management Act and Regulation 150 of the EACCMA Regulations 2006, stipulates that all validly licensed customs agents should have their licenses automatically renewed annually, upon application to KRA.

Ojonyo who replaced outgoing chairman Auni Bhaiji said Kifwa is seeking to partner with competent insurance firm on marine cargo insurance and bond, to boost local businesses.

He promised to deliver a new kifwa constitution in the next 100 days.

“We want to make the association better. Our members will also be trained,” he said.

The Kenya Transport Association has pledged to work with clearing agents on cargo evacuation.

Leave a Reply