Stop overburdening existing taxpayers, KNCCI's Rutto tells govt

KNCCI Vice President Eric Rutto addresses journalists in Meru town after meeting regional leaders from upper eastern counties on May 11, 2023. He is vying to unseat his boss Richard Ngatia.

Photo credit: David Muchui | Nation Media Group

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) vice president Erick Rutto has advised the government to widen the tax base instead of overburdening taxpayers.

Dr Rutto, who is vying for the position of KNCCI president in the election slated for June 8, 2023, is squaring it out with the incumbent Richard Ngatia.

Speaking in Meru during a meeting with KNCCI officials from Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Isiolo and Marsabit on Thursday, Dr Rutto said the chamber of commerce was keen on working with the government to net more taxpayers.

He was accompanied by his running mate Mustafa Mohammed, who is also the KNCCI Mombasa branch chairman.

The KNCCI vice president noted that while there are more than 8 million businesses in the country, only about 1.7 million are formal, leading to a loss of revenue.

“I am vying to be president of KNCCI so that we can work with the government to grow our local businesses. We want to convert the chamber of commerce into a professional business organisation and have it entrenched in law so that we can take part in policy-making,” he said.

6 million informal businesses

“As business people, we believe that the government cannot tax itself to prosperity. We are not happy with the proposed taxes because they are aimed at overtaxing formal businesses and workers. The only sustainable way is for the government to net the more than 6 million informal businesses.”

He said if elected, he will strengthen the organisation at the county level to attract more business people.

Mr Mohammed said the KNCCI Mombasa branch had managed to collect the data of more than 31,000 businesses in the coastal city and this can be replicated in the rest of the country.

“Out of the 31,000 SMEs we have registered in Mombasa, 90 percent are informal. Using this data, we have managed to convince the county government to accept payment of taxes in instalments. This can be replicated across the country to attract more taxpayers,” Mr Mohammed said.

KNCCI Meru branch chairperson said the current taxation regime was making it difficult for businesses to survive.

Dr Rutto accused the incumbent of neglecting the chamber of commerce when he joined the Nairobi gubernatorial contest last year.

“My opponent who is the current president failed to hand over when he joined politics. He was signing cheques at political rallies. My hands were tied because I was not allowed to run the office,” Dr Rutto said.