Counties

Kakamega oxygen machine remains at port in tax row

oparanya

Governor of Kakamega Wycliffe Oparanya addressing press at the county headquarters Kakamega at a past event. A new medical oxygen plant the county imported from France last month is yet to be released from the Mombasa port due to pending taxes. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Kakamega County General Hospital (KCGH) administrator Titus Mumia said Monday that the standoff between the importer and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over payment of clearance fees was causing the delay.
  • KRA explained that waiving taxes in such instances as per the Finance Act was not their jurisdiction and advised the governor to take up the matter with the Treasury.
  • Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the existing oxygen plant has been outstripped by the demand and the county hospital could no longer admit critical Covid-19 patients demanding high oxygen flow due to the acute oxygen shortage.

Two weeks after Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya announced that a new medical oxygen plant the county imported from France last month had been released, investigations by the Business Daily confirm that it is still stuck at the Mombasa port.

Kakamega County General Hospital (KCGH) administrator Titus Mumia said Monday that the standoff between the importer and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over payment of clearance fees was causing the delay.

The customs and clearance office demanded Sh8 million in taxes before releasing the machine.

“The importer told us that KRA said they would release it and had given him three months to offset the fees but they have not released it,” Mr Mumia said.

County officials declined to speak on the matter.

Bernard Karoro of Total Hospital Solutions, which imported the machine on behalf of the county, said it will be released in one week.

“I’m bound to pay taxes like any other Kenyan and I will pay. The issue has been all about insurance because I need a surety. The rest are contractual issues between myself and the county government which I do not wish to discuss, but the insurance issues I will sort out between today and Wednesday,” Mr Karoro told Business Daily yesterday.

The existing oxygen plant, the main supplier to the facility, has been outstripped by the demand, the governor said at a press briefing. The hospital, he said, could no longer admit critical Covid-19 patients demanding high oxygen flow due to the acute oxygen shortage.

Statistics show that the 13 counties in the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) continue to record higher Covid-19 positivity rates than the national figures.

KRA explained that waiving taxes in such instances as per the Finance Act was not their jurisdiction and the agency officially got in touch with the governor advising him to take up the matter with the Treasury.

“Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is aware that a supplier contracted by the Kakamega County government to import a critical equipment for use in the production of oxygen has delayed clearance of the same from the port of Mombasa due to an inability to raise funds for taxes and other related charges amounting to Sh8 million,” the agency said.