The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Joho Defends Controversial Mombasa County Finance Bill

MOMBASA Governor Hassan Joho has termed those opposed to the Finance Bill as political 'wannabes' who do not understand leadership. He defended the bill saying right procedures, as required by the constitution in drafting it, were followed.

Speaking during a meeting with county officials at Serena Hotel in Mombasa with senators and MPs from the region, Joho said those rejecting new levies are being led by their selfish interests. "We invited everyone for the consultative meeting before the bill was passed in the assembly," he said.

Joho said Suleiman Shahbal's group, which has threatened to go to court and stage demonstrations over the bill, did not attend the meeting yet they were invited. "During their press conference organised to oppose the bill, we did not see businessmen. They were all political losers who want to disrupt development," he said.

Joho defended the new Sh500 bed levy for hotels proposed in the bill saying the previous amount which was being paid to the county was a 'big joke.' Joho said hotels and others in hospitality were paying Sh3 bed levy to the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council. He said Mombasa has about 18,000 beds in all the hotels with average bed occupancy of 30 per cent per year.

"You cannot be charging Sh3 per bed every day in all these hotels and end up with only Sh6 million annually," he said. He said the Sh3 paid cannot match the standards of the current economy. "It is important to hike these charges in order to improve service delivery," Joho said.

On Sunday, Shahbal's group, Mombasa Movement for Change, which claims to be the official opposition in Mombasa, threatened to go to court to stop the implementation of the bill. Shahbal, who is the group's chair, told journalist the bill was passed without proper consultations. He said the bill was published in December 11 but was debated on December 19, which is contrary to process of passing any government legislation.

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