Kenyans are apprehensive of a new plan to increase taxes after Ruto sent new Finance Bill proposals to Parliament. His Kenya Kwanza coalition has a slight majority in both the National Assembly and Senate.
Ruto has defended the proposal saying the amendments are aimed at increasing government revenues to help the country develop and revive the ailing economy.
“We don’t intend to punish Kenyans. We want to create employment opportunities for the youths, through the amendments,” he said during a media roundtable.
President William Ruto: Coming into office, I had to cancel the borrowing of about 300 billion shillings that the intention was to borrow that would have taken the country down the cliff. Many of the subsidies that were being dished left right and centre, I had to reorganize the… pic.twitter.com/KQwEzyFXbx
Among the proposed changes include:
- 3% housing levy deduction: If passed, it will be mandatory for all employees to contribute 3% of their gross earnings to the National Housing Development Fund to enable the government to build cheap housing.
- Increase of VAT (Value Added Tax) on petroleum products from the current 8% to 16%. This is despite the Energy & Petroleum Regulatory Authority announcing an increase in fuel prices this week, with a litre of super petrol now selling at KSh182.70 ($1.33) from KSh179.3 ($1.30).
As MP’s prepare to debate the proposal ahead of the new national budget, which will be tabled mid-June, other areas that will be impacted include: income tax; digital assets tax; digital content creators, and excise duty.
MP’s from the leading coalition say they will pass the proposed finance bill without amendments. Senator Samson Cherargei, Ruto’s confidant, says the proposals must be passed so the government can provide essential services to Kenyans.
“We will not be able to do anything in the next four years if we don’t pass these proposals,” he says.
Ruto punishing hustlers….
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has told opposition MPs to oppose the proposals. He warns that if the bill is passed, he will once again call for street protests.
Raila says Ruto has forgotten what he promised the hustlers and is now punishing them through increased taxes.
“Kenyans are too overburdened with a high cost of living and cannot afford more taxes,” Raila says.
We strongly reject the Finance Bill 2023! It’s an unjust punishment, burdening Kenyans and manufacturing poverty.
The Kenya Kwanza regime continues to ignore the public and refuses to make changes.
Rising fuel prices and a falling currency are worsening the lives of Kenyans. pic.twitter.com/XRGPLnxSSw
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) May 16, 2023
In the past two months Raila has been leading street protests to pressure the Ruto administration to deal with the high cost of living and do away with increased taxes.
I’m still jobless, Ruto promised we shall be employed, but instead he is busy increasing taxes. I’m disappointed.
George Maina graduated two years ago from a local university. He voted for Ruto during the 2022 presidential election with the hope that his administration would make finding jobs more possible.
“I’m still jobless, Ruto promised we shall be employed, but instead he is busy increasing taxes. I’m disappointed,” he tells The Africa Report.
Ivy Ameka, who voted for Raila, owns a small local vegetable farm in Mbale, Western Region. She says business is bad. “We hustlers have been forgotten, I’m not surprised. Raila should keep on fighting for us,” she says.
Suba Churchill, the director of the Kenya National Civil Society Centre, says with these proposed taxes, Ruto is losing the trust of ordinary Kenyans, the very people whose lives he promised to change.
“Ruto should have consulted the hustlers he promised to work for. They feel let down,” he tells The Africa Report.
Churchill adds that Ruto should have widely consulted people to explain why it was necessary for his administration to increase the taxes.
“The majority of Kenyans feel that they are being forced to pay higher taxes,” he says.
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