Council calls for zero rating inputs to save floriculture industry
Kenya Flower Council (KFC) is calling for zero-rating of all farm inputs to cushion the floriculture sector from adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
KFC noted that the sector was on its knees with flower farms disposing of their harvest following the current lockdown in several European Union member-countries.
The flower farmers’ association lamented tha President Uhuru Kenyatta had in his address to the nation last week ignored the sector that employs over 150,000 workers.
Chief Executive Officer Clement Tulezi said an estimated 10 per cent of the country’s flowers were finding their way to the market.
“Due to the current crisis, farmers have been forced to send home over 50 per cent of their workers on paid leave hoping that things would change in the coming month,” he said.
He said that this had left farmers incurring huge losses forcing them to send majority of their workers home as the crisis deepened.
“We had sent some proposal to the government to zero-rate all farm inputs and scrap PAYE but this has not been addressed yet,” he said.
Tulezi said that the farmers were ready to start shipping flowers once the situation stabilized in Europe which is the main market for Kenya’s flowers.
“Since the Dutch auction collapsed, farmers have been forced to dispose of their flowers while a few of them export very little to some supermarkets and Japan which is not affected by this pandemic,” he said.
He stated that measures introduced by the government only protected the workers and ignored employers who are the leading tax payers.
He welcomed the planned VAT refunds by the government adding that the sector should be given first priority.
“The government plans to release Sh10 billion as VAT refunds for all industries but the flower farms are owed Sh9b meaning that some people will miss out,” he said.