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Businesses Protest Kenyan Tax Directive

Thousands of business people in Kenya's capital have protested a government directive that would require businesses to purchase a special machine to record and monitor tax collection.

The crowd gathered outside Kenya's parliament buildings in downtown Nairobi, holding signs and chanting that the directive is unfair and ineffective.

"Today's demonstration is about Kenya Revenue Authority," said protester Chandrakant Shah, chairman of a Nairobi mattress company called Vitafoam. "They are forcefully implementing machines which are really not actually working, but everybody has to buy. Myself, I have bought one, and it does not work."

Business people also told VOA the machines are expensive, are only sold by a few vendors. They say when the machines break down, it takes several days for a technician to come fix them, leaving business cash registers in limbo.

Many shops in downtown Nairobi have been closed for several days running to protest the directive and the subsequent crackdown by the authority.

The Kenya Revenue Authority requires that businesses install tax registers that will be programmed to monitor purchases. Businesses can claim expenses incurred in installing the machines.

The authority says the machines will help them to streamline tax collection and ensure that the proper taxes are being paid, and denies that only a few vendors sell the required machines.

Businesses had between June 1 last year and January of this year to purchase and install the machines, with an additional two months' grace period.