Water bottling firms have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to have new taxes on locally manufactured bottled water withdrawn.
Water Bottlers Association of Kenya chairman Michael Ochieng Tuesday noted the new excise duty, production line, excise stamp duty and VAT will make the the vital commodity more costly for Kenyans from August 1
“Most of our towns, if not all have almost similar problem of either lack of water, salty water and sanitation problems." he said.
"Even in the rural areas water cannot be trusted due to pilferage of farm chemicals to our water sources
He noted that tap water supply is inadequate hence the use of borehole water by the majority as an alternative for drinking, cooking and cleaning of the household items.
"We feel cheated when the government slaps us with tax on water which is our right as citizens,” Mr Ochieng said, while addressing the press at Tudor Water Sports in Mombasa.
He noted that the entire Coast region depends on borehole water.
Mr Ochieng added that SMEs that have invested in the bottled water industry are helping a bigger population to access clean and affordable drinking water through purification using modern equipment.
“It would be a big plus for the government’s effort and obligation to provide fresh, clean and affordable drinking water to every household as enshrined in the supreme law of Kenya article 43 1(D).
"We seek your support as we partner to bridge the gap in the provision of clean water for the health of our people,” the WBAK chair said.
He said the Sh5 per litre excise duty, 16 per cent VAT, and 50 cents excise stamp duty on bottled water is a slap on the Kenyans as they could not afford clean water.
The association said that with the levies, SMES in the bottled water industry will be forced to close down their plants.
“Very soon we will be rendered jobless even after having invested heavily in equipment and machinery which are going to be obsolete, considering that the government has put in place four pillars as an economic driving engine such as industrialisation and water being one of the key pillars in the next five years,” Mr Ochieng added.
The association also wants the bottled water industry to be given incentives by the government to facilitate the automation of the production lines as it has happened with other sectors like agricultural and many others in the past.
Blue Pearl Water Proprietor Mr Ahmed Mohamed said the cost of a semi-automated line is approximately Sh3.5 million just for a filling and capping machine per factory.
“This put into perspective translates to a huge amount of money considering that our economy is progressively performing. It would be costly to the economy,” Mr Mohamed said.
The association also wants to be allowed to continue with the business as it supports the government’s agenda of creating employment and investment.