The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Musanze Traders Protest Outdoor Advertising Charges

Musanze district traders have decried the new levy on outdoor advertising. The traders say the district's new directive affects companies that are already paying other taxes.

In a meeting in mid December last year, the district authority urged all business owners to pay for signposts, banners, stickers and photos advertising their commercial activities.

Before this, only companies that were using the 34 billboards along the roads were required to pay the annual fees. According to the recent directive, a total of 223 signposts will be paid for by the owners. District officials said the identification of these signposts is yet to be completed.

Eric Umurezi is the proprietor of Top Design and Graphic, a design business in Musanze said he is already paying a hygiene fee and company taxes. Umurezi argues that paying for signposts is uncalled for.

"I have placed sign posts on houses to let people know what I do. I pay revenue and company taxes. Paying for sign-posts is a huge burden," Umurezi said, adding that this should only apply in cities.

However, officials say business people were informed in time about the introduction of these charges. Bonaventure Hategekimana, the Musanze District Revenue Officer, said sign posts are a source of income for the district.

Hategekimana said the charge per square meter will double for people whose sign posts advertise on both sides. He said the charge will also depend on the width of the sign post.

"We have spent enough time explaining this. However, there are people who are reluctant to pay. Heavy fines await them," Hategekimana warned.

These charges will be paid annually.

In September last year, the City of Kigali announced a directive that sent tongues wagging among business people. The directive aims to collect close to Rwf400m from the fees charged for sign posts used in the city.

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