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Sakaja forms Committee to review liquor license fees

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja has formed a committee to review the annual liquor licensing fees.

This comes after the Bar Hotels and Liquor Trade Association of Kenya (BAHLITA) objected to the new fees and threatened to go to court to stop the implementation of Sakaja’s Finance Act 2023, which increased liquor licence fees by up to 400%.

In his response, the county boss said his administration was keen to lend an ear to all stakeholders who contribute to the economy. He stressed that the committee setup would come up with a win-win situation for the county and traders.

In the Finance Act 2023, Sakaja amended the Nairobi City County Alcoholic Drinks Control and Licensing Act of 2014 to increase the annual general retail of alcoholic drinks license from Sh25,000 to Sh100,000.

The committee will comprise of the County Commissioner, the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Trade, the County Attorney, the Chief Officer in charge of the inspectorate unit, and the representatives from BAHLITA led by its national chairperson Mr Simon Njoroge and the representatives from sub-counties.

The committee is expected to finalise its review in a week and submit the report to the Governor, who will thereafter make his pronouncement.

“The traders expressed support for our efforts in restoring order, dignity, hope, and opportunities for all categories of business people in the Central Business District,” Governor Sakaja said.

He also reiterates his administration will not allow the operation of nightclubs without the authority of the county government.

“Not every place can have a nightclub. You can have a restaurant, you can have a bar and restaurant that closes at a certain time, and operates in a certain manner.”

Nairobi Deputy Governor Mr Njoroge Muchiri, Health CEC Ms Susan Silantoi, Nairobi Alcoholic Drinks Control, and Licensing Board Chairman Mr Mike RabarI were among the leaders who attended the meeting that brought together bar and restaurant owners in the city to discuss the issues affecting the sector.

Bahlita chairperson Mr Njoroge expressed confidence in Sakaja’s move.

“He has listened to our cries that the money that had been proposed in the Finance Act was too high, and has noted that our businesses are paying for more than eight licenses. The meeting has borne fruit and we have seven days to sit with the governor’s team and give him our recommendations,” Mr Njoroge said.

Bahlita secretary general Mr Boniface Gachoka said that the committee is expected to address other challenges that have been facing the liquor businesses, including corruption and harassment from the inspectorate officers, and other county officials.

“We have agreed that the entire system should be digitalized and stop involvement of officials who contribute to corruption…we are urging other governors in the country and the government, including the Deputy President to sit down with us so that we can agree on the way forward,” Mr Gachoka said.

The association had protested that the new charges would hurt their businesses and that some of the businesses would be closed if the county did not review the charges.

They also claimed their contributions during the public engagement were not captured in the Finance Act.

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