Politics and policy

Tax and county laws top President’s Parliament agenda

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President Uhuru Kenyatta. Tax and county laws top his Parliament agenda. FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta. Tax and county laws top his Parliament agenda. FILE 

By EDWIN MUTAI

Posted  Sunday, April 14  2013 at  18:23

In Summary

  • Mr Kenyatta will outline which Bills the government intends to introduce to both Houses to ensure that maternity fees are abolished and citizens access dispensaries and health centres free of charge.
  • He is also expected to lay the roadmap of dealing with unemployment having pledged that his administration would create jobs.

The 11th Parliament opens on Tuesday to a legislative agenda that could be crowded further by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s priorities during his address to the National Assembly and the Senate.

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Parliament will inherit 37 Bills that its predecessor left pending when its term expired on January 14. Among the urgent businesses President Kenyatta will have to conclude while entrenching some of the Jubilee coalition promises into law is the Division of Revenue and County Allocation of Revenue Bills for the 2013/14 financial year.

“My government will immediately begin the process of supporting devolution and enabling county leadership to carry out their constitutional mandate and fulfil the pledges they made to the Kenyan people,” Mr Kenyatta said.

Already, governors have raised a storm over the decision by the Treasury to draw their budgets for the next fiscal year without their involvement.

Mr Kenyatta will outline which Bills the government intends to introduce to both Houses to ensure that maternity fees are abolished and citizens access dispensaries and health centres free of charge.

He will also seek legislative backing for directing the Sh6 billion previously allocated for the presidential election run-off towards establishing a new Youth and Women Fund as well as ensuring pupils joining Class One in public schools next year receive a laptop.

Mr Kenyatta is also expected to lay the roadmap of dealing with unemployment having pledged that his administration would create jobs and opportunities “for our people, especially our young people.”

In this regard are changes to procurement laws that would ensure a fifth of State tenders are reserved for local suppliers as well as enhancing the climate for private sector to thrive.

“We will make the procurement process faster, more accessible and transparent. We will simplify the process of starting and running a business in order to make it friendly and cost-effective to do business in Kenya,” the President said.

“To the private sector, my promise to you is that we will create an enabling environment so that you can play your part in creating employment and fostering economic growth.”

President Kenyatta is, therefore, expected to order the publication and reintroduction of the Companies Bill 2010, Insolvency Bill 2010, Limited Liability Partnership Bill 2010, Special Economic Zones Bill, 2012 and the Public Procurement and Disposal (Amendment) Bill 2011, which expired with the dissolution of the previous House.

The Bills, including the Labour Institutions (Amendment) Bill 2011 were aimed at developing modern laws to support a competitive economy and stimulate foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Laws that will reform the financial sector to boost tax collection on which funding for the myriad election pledges is predicated such as the lapsed Value Added Tax Bill, 2012 are expected to be reintroduced quickly.

The Treasury was banking on the reforms in the consumer tax to collect Sh11 billion. The Bill proposing to tax items that were previously exempt or zero-rated was opposed by legislators, consumer rights groups, workers and farmer organisations, who feared higher costs could cripple sectors such as mining, agriculture, and oil exploration.

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