The cost of imported timber looks set to fall following the removal of 10 percent import duty, offering relief to traders who had been forced to raise prices with the ban in local logging.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich proposed reduction of import duty on timber imports from 10 to zero percent to facilitate importation of raw timber.
The anti-logging ban imposed in February last year has cut off raw material supply for timber merchants, who have in turn increased prices.
“To address their plight and at the same time protect our forests, I have proposed to reduce import duty on raw timber from 10 percent to zero percent,” Mr Rotich told Parliamnet.
The Government banned the harvesting of timber in public and community forests to tame destruction of the country’s forest cover mostly blamed on charcoal dealers.
The ban has cut raw timber supply to local manufacturers and the construction sector who in turn shifted to importing the raw material to stay in business.
The cost of importing the timber has been passed on to consumers which has increased the price of the products in the market.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) timber sector survey for 2018 showed imports for finished timber products was growing at 22 per cent annually while local manufacturing of timber and wood-based products were growing at a mere seven per cent.
“To protect the timber and furniture industry from proliferation of cheap finished timber products and to enhance local production, I have proposed to retain an ad valorem rate of import duty at 25 percent with corresponding specific rate of import duty on the products” said Mr Rotich.
Destruction of Kenya’s key forests like the Mau Complex has been blamed on charcoal dealers’ pursuit of quick profits in urban centres.