Uhuru Kenyatta Orders Scrapping of Vehicle Import Duty for Kenyan Diaspora

Kenyans returning from overseas with left-hand-drive vehicles will be allowed to bring in right-hand-drive models duty-free. At the same time, Kenyans living and working abroad have been assured that they will take part in the 2017 General Election.

President Uhuru Kenyatta joins youths in a dance when he met with the Kenyan diaspora in the US in a hotel in Washington DC. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta joins youths in a dance when he met with the Kenyan diaspora in the US in a hotel in Washington DC. PHOTO | PSCU

These were some of the gifts President Uhuru Kenyatta dished out to Kenyans in the US on Wednesday night during his first meeting with the diaspora since he took office last year.

He ordered the ministries of Transport, Finance and Trade to scrap duty for citizens who would sell their left-hand-drive vehicles and buy right-hand-drive cars to comply with the law.

“Those who live in countries where people drive on the wrong side of the road should be allowed to sell that car that drives on the wrong side of the road, buy a vehicle that drives on the right side of the road, and be able to bring that car into Kenya duty-free,” he said.

Kenya is among 76 countries and territories in the world that drive on the left, and the scrapping of the 25 per cent import duty and 20 per cent exercise duty is a big relief for car owners in over 160 countries that drive on the right, including the US and Russia.

The Jubilee government, Mr Kenyatta said, would support the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to register and conduct polls in countries with large Kenyan populations such as the US and the UK.

The Court of Appeal in June ordered the IEBC to enable Kenyans abroad to take part in elections. Only Kenyans living in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi took part in the March 4, 2013 polls where they voted for the presidential candidate only.

To facilitate this plan, Mr Kenyatta intends to open more consulates and missions in several countries, starting with the US, to issue national IDs and renew passports, among other services.

He is scheduled to open new consulates in Texas and Minnesota to add to those in Los Angeles and New York. The move is aimed at enabling the Kenyan embassy in Washington, DC to reach and serve more Kenyans in the US.

Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohammed said a Diaspora Policy that would address most of the issues affecting Kenyans abroad was ready.

The new policy, she said, would focus on improving the welfare of Kenyans in the diaspora, negotiating labour contracts with foreign governments, boosting their security, and streamlining their investment and contribution to Kenya’s economy.

“An interactive diaspora web portal will be opened at the ministry to link consulates and missions abroad,” she told the 1,200-person forum at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

While noting that Kenyans abroad sent over Sh113 billion back home last year, Ms Mohammed said they were engaging banks and other financial institutions to provide cheaper cash-remittance services to the group.

“We are also planning to launch an investment management service to help you avoid fraud while investing back at home,” she said, urging the community to continue using mobile money transfer services in the meantime.

The ministry also plans to set up the National Diaspora Council of Kenya to improve policy and institutional arrangement for engaging Kenyans living abroad.

– Business Daily