Smartphones and feature phones dominate the list of items set to be auctioned at the Eldoret International Airport as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seeks to recover unpaid taxes.
A review of the auction list showed that importers failed to pay taxes on more than 100 refurbished phones, laptops, and e-cigarettes, among other items prompting a seizure by the taxman.
“Pursuant to the provisions of section 42 of the East African Community Customs Management Act, 2004, notice is given that unless the under-mentioned goods are entered and removed from the Customs Warehouse within 30 days from the date of this notice, they will be sold by public auction on November 15, 2023,” the KRA noted.
The cargo arrived at the airport between June 9 and June 13 this year, aboard 11 flights, and included refurbished smartphones and laptops, feature phones, and e-cigarettes.
The accumulation of idle cargo at the airport has come in the backdrop of a revised cargo consolidation plan by KRA, which has seen traders shipping cargo via consolidation, paying taxes per item with a requirement to clear the goods within 21 days.
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Previously, taxes on consolidated cargo were paid by the measure of weight, presenting opportunities for traders to evade paying a fair share of taxes through mis-invoicing.
The importers had been paying Sh200 per kilogramme for air cargo to the KRA and Sh2.2 million for a 40-foot container brought in by sea.
Importers of consolidated cargo, which largely features mobile phones, laptops, toys, and second-hand clothes are required to unbundle the goods to allow for clearance.
The unbundling order has been blamed for delays in the clearance of some goods at various ports of entry including seaports and airports.
Imports through the Eldoret International Airport face tougher clearance procedures after the KRA moved in to seal revenue leaks and boost security. https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ectvp/1/
Clearance requirements for instance include packing lists that detail the name of the importer, cargo owner, KRA PIN, passport/national ID, phone contact, and physical address.
Importers are also required to describe goods, quantities, and values.
The Eldoret Airport has recently proved to be popular among importers who avoid lengthy queues at the busier Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
The airport’s allure for importers has most recently increased with the return of direct international cargo flights in August, ending a 16-year hiatus.
The buildup in uncollected cargo nevertheless extends outside the Eldoret International Airport to include a slowdown in cargo collection at the Port of Mombasa on the new rules for consolidated goods and cash payments.
The sale of cargo by KRA at various ports of entry has been in a bid to maximize revenue collection.