Small-scale importers are the most affected in one of the biggest auctions to be carried out by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in Mombasa starting Thursday where 223 containers and 314 vehicles will go under the hammer.
Consolidated cargo is the majority of the commodities slated for sale. The goods mostly belong to small traders who had imported but have failed to pay the requisite fees to clear the goods on time.
In the 11 warehouses where gazetted auction consignment have been lying, interested bidders, visited them for inspection. The goods range from furniture, clothes, electronics and high-end vehicles were open for viewing.
KRA projects to collect about Sh200 million in revenue from the goods which have remained uncollected in customs warehouses in Mombasa. The taxman is expecting to close 2020/2021 financial by conducting the auction.
Joseph Waziri, one of the importers who managed to pay for the taxes of his consignment on Monday before the Tuesday evening set deadline ahead of the auction, blamed Covid-19 for the increasing volumes of goods being auctioned.
“I saw the gazette notice and my container was among the lots identified for Wednesday auction. Clearance delay for my cargo was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as I had no money to pay the taxes. Luckily I have managed to mobilise resources to save my cargo before the fall of the hammer,” said Mr Waziri.
Dorcas Mathore, one of those intending to attend the auction, said the auction is better organised than the previous ones.
“KRA has managed to arrange containers for easy inspection and we are satisfied as we wait for the auction day,” said Ms Mathore at the Port of Mombasa where she visited one of the warehouses housing the cargo to be auctioned.
Southern Regional Coordinator, Joseph Tonui said the auction, which is one of the biggest in a decade, aims at boosting revenues and improving efficiency at the Port of Mombasa.
“The gazetted vehicles and containers are set for auctioning after owners failed to pay taxes within the stipulated period. This is meant to increase efficiency at the Port of Mombasa and other facilities by decongesting them. All procedures have been followed and we expect to collect about Sh150 million to Sh200 million,” said Mr Tonui.
“The auction coincides with the end of the financial year and the amount to be collected will boost our revenue target for the financial year which is ending this month.”
In the last auction conducted in Mombasa, KRA managed to collect Sh53 million of revenue.
Mr Tonui said some of the cargo to be auctioned include those which have not been claimed by fraudulent importers.
“We should understand that not all cargo is being auctioned because owners have failed to pay taxes. Some are those which are unclaimed due to tight security by government agencies to seal illegal importation,” he said.
According to the Commissioner, the auction will be held in an environment where all Covid-19 protocol measures have been adhered to.
“The auction will be open to all Kenyans and the process will be transparent where we expect to auction goods including cargo which were meant for transit,” said Mr Tonui.
“We expect many bidders, that is why we have spread the activity to two days and all protocols have been put in place to ensure we do business in a safe environment,” said Mr Tonui.