NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – Investors are now pleading with the Government to pay back VAT as it hinders expansion and growth of their flower farms.
Despite the rosy performance of the sector last year, flower farms are claiming that the Government has delayed in paying back the VAT that has accumulated over the past 12 months, stifling expected growth.
According to Bobby Kamani, the Managing Director, Primarosa Flower Limited the Government must expedite the repayment of VAT to ensure that the farms are able to invest back in good time for purposes of safeguarding their future profits.
“Delays in recovering VAT from the Government delays span back to over 12 months, as a result impacting cash flow and increasing the base cost of operating,” he said.
Kamani said that the Government should allow the firms to offset pending VAT repayments either through Income Tax or PAYE.
In addition, the flower industry is also crying foul in the delay by the Government to avail fertilisers to the flower farms, hindering the expected production as well as resulting in the increasing price of cut flowers due to the higher demand.
However, the lack of fertilizer is also expected to impact the overall earnings of 2019 as well as affect the quality of the flowers produced, if the situation is not remedied as soon as possible:
“Fertilizers are vital to our product and lack of its availability in the market has resulted in traders doubling their prices, leaving the farms helpless as there are no other options,” Kamani noted.
He also pointed out that the long impact of reduced yields may impact on sales as well as foreign exchange to the country.
Furthermore, the industry is also requesting for the removal of the annual increase of 10 percent of Collective Bargaining Agreement that is crippling the cost of operations of flower farms.
Kamani fears that this could lead to farms winding down their businesses owing to operational expenses increasing annually in an impractical manner.
“Labour and energy are our biggest costs to the farms and these increases will result in other farms being closed down,” he pointed out.
The cost of power in Kenya is still high compared to other East African countries and there are no exemptions or incentives that the Government is providing to investors in this sector.