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Mexican yellow maize held at Mombasa port in legal, tax relief hitch

Activist Okiya Omtatah.
Activist Okiya Omtatah. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Two ships with a consignment of white and yellow maize from Mexico have docked at the Mombasa port but are yet to discharge cargo following legal and tax queries over the imports.

The yellow maize consignment arrived close to a week ago and is awaiting clearance from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) after the customs officials informed the importers that they had not received official communication on tax relief.

Animal Feeds Manufacturers chairman Joseph Karuri said the association is waiting for Treasury to communicate to KRA to have the consignment released.

“The maize has already docked at the port but we are awaiting clearance from KRA, which is yet to receive official communication as they still indicate in their system that we are supposed to pay a 50 percent duty,” the said.

The Treasury allowed animal feed manufacturers to import yellow maize at 10 percent duty, which is a reduction from the 50 percent that applies to the countries in East African Community under the common market protocol.

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The maize has been imported by large-scale millers who will, in turn, sell part of the produce to small-scale processors who could not import individually as they lack financial capacity.

Uncertainty also surrounds the release of white maize that has docked following a court order that prohibited release until a case activist Okiya Omutatah filed is heard and determined.

The court extended its initial ruling to June 16, restricting the discharge of the maize that should have docked by then.

The first ship with 40,000 tonnes of maize arrived at the port this week and it remains to be seen if the court will extend the orders. This comes at a time when the price of flour has remained high at Sh125 for a two-kilo packet with millers not seeing any reprieve to the consumers in the near future.

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