The National Treasury’s decision to amend the Excise Tax Act to allow annual inflation-driven increment of excise duty could be well meaning, but is certainly ill-advised, especially because of its possible effect on the cost of consumer goods.
For years, Kenyans have come to expect that the prices of beer and cigarettes would rise, with the annual adjustment of what has come to be popularly known as the sin tax.
But the blanket adjustment on of tax excisable goods, including key consumer goods such as kerosene, is to say the least insensitive to the plights of millions of poor Kenyans.
Experts have indeed rightly questioned whether Kenyans will continue to afford the goods that will be affected by this increase.
It adds on to the woes of the ordinary citizen, who is also affected by overall poor performance of the economy and mega corruption that gives a select group of people undue advantage in the marketplace.
Besides, the uncertainty that the annual adjustment brings makes it difficult for investors to make long-term decisions — a fact that negates the purpose for which this law is intended.
It also does not make sense to hurt the poor folk at the bottom of the pyramid. Even as there may be a justifiable need to collect money to run the country, there is need for a balance and to probably just be humane.