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Economy

Parliament, Nairobi County in tussle over Sh396m rates

Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO |
Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Parliamentary Service Commission is seeking to stop a Sh396 million demand from the Nairobi county government in property rates for buildings occupied by legislators.

In a suit filed in court last week, PSC pointed a finger at the county administration for acting in bad faith by demanding Sh396,797,087 for several properties used by Parliament.

According to PSC, the demand for the money is a violation of the Attorney- General’s advice, the Constitution as well as the Valuation for Rating Act and the Valuation for Rating Public Land rules. The amounts the Nairobi county government is demanding is not based on any law or regulations providing a legal foundation setting the contribution in lieu of rates as required in the Valuation for Rating Act,” said PSC.

The commission has specifically sued the county government, the Governor Mike Sonko and the Finance and Economic Planning executive committee.

Even though PSC admitted that the county government has legal right to ensure all public land in its jurisdiction is valued and contribution in lieu of rates is assessed, it claimed that the demand in this instance is arbitrary.

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PSC has accused the county government of misinterpreting provisions of the law when demanding payment of rates over government or public land.

In the case documents, the commission said the law requires only payment of contribution in lieu of rates over public land that it holds, uses or occupies.

It added that to determine the contribution, the law provides that the valuer prepares a valuation roll for the purposes of assessing the rates payable to a local authority when it comes to government land.

The commission also alleged that currently, there is no valuation roll for public for the assessment of contribution in lieu of rates yet the county government is making demands for the monies to be paid.

City Hall was demanding a total of Sh396.79 million from PSC as at October 8, 2019, with the amount having gone up from Sh336.89 million in June 2013.

The demands for payment of the said money started six years ago.

But the Attorney- General, at the request of PSC, issued a legal opinion on December 4, 2014 on exceptions when it comes to paying rates for public land.

After the promulgation of the constitution, Parliament had to incorporate members of the Senate and this forced the commission to ensure offices, chambers and meeting rooms for parliamentary business for both houses was available.

Currently, Parliament occupies main Parliament building, juvenile court building, store and parking for Parliament, County Hall, Continental House, Red Cross building and the official residence of the Speaker of the National Assembly.

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