Mombasa bar and restaurant owners have filed a lawsuit to challenge the county’s current finance law, claiming the county was using it to collect last year’s taxes, levies and charges.
Through the Mombasa County Association of Bars, Hotels, Restaurants and Guesthouses, they claim that the local government is forcing them to pay fees, levies, taxes and penalties for the past year before that they do not receive operating licenses for 2021.
In a petition to the Mombasa High Court, the association argues that the county government ignored the fact that the national government ordered their businesses to shut down last year due to Covid-19 and that they did not have not fully reopened to date.
The association, which filed the petition with the Coast Legal Aid and Resource Foundation (Clarf), sued the Mombasa County Government, the Mombasa County Assembly Clerk and the County Finance and County Executive Committee. economic planning.
According to the petitioners, the public did not participate in the enactment of the Mombasa County Finance Law.
“Interviewees denied residents of Mombasa a chance to participate in the process of promulgating the 2021 Mombasa County Finance Law,” the petitioners argue.
They seek a declaration that the respondents’ actions violated their rights and the Constitution to such an extent that there was no public participation in the process of making and enacting the law.
According to the petitioners, they also want a declaration that the respondents’ action to impose payments and taxes for the past year, before receiving payments and issuing licenses, is illegal.
The petitioners accuse the county government of deliberately increasing levies or taxes affecting its members and the public, without following due process.
The association and Clarf also argue that the law illegally introduced a tax on hotel beds payable to the county, despite paying 2 percent to the tourism fund, which amounts to double taxation.
They further argue that consultations on the creation and enactment of the law should be conducted at the neighborhood level to ensure equality and fairness for all residents.
The petitioners further accuse the county government of failing to provide the public with vital data, documents and relevant information regarding items whose taxes were necessarily to be increased.
“By promulgating the 2021 finance law, the defendants relied on information from third parties or people who are not affected by the law”, argue the petitioners.
The petitioners claim that the County Finance Bill 2021 was published in the Kenya Gazette before being presented to the County Assembly for deliberation and approval and that it was not published in the County Gazette.
They also argue that the 100 percent tax increase following the enactment of the law will interfere with the county’s economy as the cost of doing business increases.
The petitioners also seek a permanent injunction order to suspend the application of the law.