KENYA—Edible oil manufacturers in Kenya have issued a stern warning about potential price increases in cooking oil and essential household products following the implementation of a 10 percent import duty on crude palm oil.

The levy, effective July 1, 2024, has sparked concerns among industry players who fear its adverse impact on the cost of living across the country.

The Edible Oil Manufacturers Association of Kenya has raised alarms, predicting a ripple effect that could elevate prices of staple goods reliant on cooking oil, such as soap, bread, mandazi, chapatis, and margarine.

According to their statement released to the press, these price hikes could significantly burden millions of Kenyan households, especially those with low incomes.

“This duty will not only affect the price of cooking oil but will also escalate the cost of other essential household items, exacerbating the financial strain on many Kenyan families,” the association emphasized.

The controversy stems from Kenya’s adoption of the East African Community’s Common External Tariff, which mandates a 10 percent duty on crude palm oil imports, replacing the previous zero rate.

This regulatory change, published in the EAC Gazette No. 18 on June 30, 2024, has sparked outcry and opposition, particularly in light of recent nationwide protests against tax hikes.

The manufacturers urged the government to reconsider this decision to impose additional taxes, given the widespread public outcry and its adverse impact on ordinary Kenyans. This sentiment echoes sentiments expressed during recent demonstrations that led to the withdrawal of the Finance Bill 2024.

The Finance Bill initially proposed a 25 percent tax on both raw and refined vegetable oils, a measure that faced significant public resistance and was ultimately retracted by the President in response to mounting pressure.

Earlier, the government had proposed import duty as a measure to reduce import burden and support local production.

According to data from the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate under the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Kenya produces only 34 percent of its edible oils and fat requirements, the deficit is imported mainly from South-East Asian countries.

The country remains a net importer of vegetable oils as local production has not grown to meet local demand, yet many oil seeds, such as sunflower, simsim, soya beans, rapeseed (canola), coconut, castor, and groundnuts, can be grown and processed locally.

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