Importers face a surcharge of up to Sh13,020 for every cargo container inspected and confirmed to be in breach of tax regulations by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Mombasa port manager said.
A schedule the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) released on Monday showed that importers would pay Sh8,680 ($80) for a 20-foot container verified to be non-compliant with tax rules while 40-foot containers would each attract a fee of Sh13,020.
“In addition to this, a penalty fee on misdeclaration as per the prevailing tariff shall be imposed” Kenya Ports Authority acting managing director, Rashid Salim said.
Containers that are subjected to verification and found to be compliant and with no penalty imposed on them by the taxman shall however be exempted from the charges that took effect on Sunday.
“No charges will be applied to containers targeted for sight and release” Mr Salim further said, adding that the order does not affect transit-bound containers.
The verification of containers is aimed at nabbing tax cheats and sub-standard as well as contraband goods shipped into the country. As a deterrent to non-compliant importers, the taxman and KPA introduced verification fees on containers. The implementation of the fees has, however, been met with protests in past, forcing the State to defer the scheme.
The verification fees were first introduced in mid-February 2011 before they were stopped, was opposed by key stakeholders, including shippers as well as clearing and forwarding agents who staged a go-slow to protest the charges.
KPA in February last year unsuccessfully tried to re-introduce the fee. The port manager was forced to once again drop the plan after more than 600 clearing and forwarding firms operating at the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi paralysed operations at the KPA’s Embakasi facility, resulting in a cargo clearance backlog.
The Shippers Council for East Africa and Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association who had opposed the plan accused KPA of acting without consulting key stakeholders.