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Row brewing as new KRA system rocks tea exports – Business Daily

Times Tower in Nairobi, the headquarters of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Picture taken on Thursday, October 15, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
A new demand by the taxman to have all non-Kenyan teas and those from Export Promotion Zones subjected to a new customs system before they are shipped out of the country is headed for a diplomatic standoff with the neighbouring countries.
Traders say the delays in approval of teas by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), occasioned by compulsory use of the Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) has seen the commodity from the EPZ and neighbouring countries miss out on market.
It is taking at least two weeks for teas from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, to be cleared at the Port of Mombasa, forcing them to refund the commodity that had already been paid for.
The KRA rolled out the iCMS system last year October after a pilot phase in 2019, which started with the clearing of motor vehicles, bulk cargo and export cargo.
Teas cannot be released to the market before they are cleared by KRA in the system to enable buyers to collect them from warehouses for shipping. “It is taking at least two weeks for teas to be cleared by KRA and this has had a negative impact on teas coming from the neighbouring countries and the EPZs, our neighbours might think that we are deliberately not releasing their teas to the market,” said Ralph Mwadime, Tea Business Manager with Cargill.
The Mombasa Tea Auction, which is managed by the East African Tea Trade, handles tea from 12 African countries.
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