Bar, restaurant and liquor store owners in Nairobi are smiling following a move to lower business permit fees by half.
The Nairobi County Assembly has proposed the reduced fees citing complaints from stakeholders over the charges which, coupled with other challenges, make the alcohol business an expensive and frustrating affair.
Aside from the license fees, many bars and liquor stores in the city have to contend with extortion, intimidation and harassment by police officers and county government officers.
The lower fees are among amendments to the Nairobi County Finance Bill, 2021 proposed by the Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Nairobi County currently charges liquor traders Ksh30,000 for a six-month permit or Ksh50,000 for an annual license. Under the proposed new structure, they would part with Ksh25,000 for the annual license or Ksh15,000 for a six-month permit.
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Off-license charges, paid by businesses which sell alcohol for consumption elsewhere, were also reduced. From Ksh24,000 a year, it will cost Ksh12,000 a year for an annual license, and Ksh7,000 for a six-month license down from Ksh14,000.
The committee chair Robert Mbatia noted that the Bar, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) had been actively involved in public participation on the Nairobi County Finance Bill, stating that their input informed their review.
“The Bar, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) explained to us the journey of opening and operating liquor business and as a committee we saw how difficult it is, and we saw the need to have these charges reduced in our proposal so as to cushion them,” he stated.
The committee further highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many bars and liquor stores in the city. Easing of Covid restrictions has driven recovery in the sector in recent months after an extended slump that followed stringent regulations on their operations.
“The association took the committee through the painful journey of opening or operating a bar or a wines and spirit shop. In this regard, the committee has proposed that the relevant charges be reduced by 50 percent,” Mbatia asserted.