Divisive alcohol, SIM card taxes up for vote

A parliamentary session. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

MPs will Tuesday afternoon resume debate on the Finance Bill 2022 with all eyes on proposed taxes that, if approved, will lead to a rise in the cost of beer and digital loans.

The Bill comes up for the third reading, where lawmakers will either approve or reject the proposed changes that will significantly affect the cost of living.

Proposals by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, seeking to increase excise duty on beer, wine and spirits by between 20.2 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively, top the priority list for the sitting this afternoon.

Mr Ichung’wah, who is affiliated to Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition, opposed the recommendation by the National Assembly Finance Committee, which reversed the Treasury’s proposals to raise alcohol taxes.

In a raft of amendments largely seen to have the blessings of the Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza coalition, Mr Ichung’wah also proposed a new Sh50 excise duty on every imported ready-to-use SIM card.

The lawmakers will also vote on the proposal to impose a 20 percent excise tax on fees charged by digital lenders which if approved will pile pressure on millions of Kenyans who use the loans to foot daily bills.

Mobile phone users seeking to replace or register afresh will pay more for the product, with the mobile telephony market a key target for raising billions of shillings in taxes. Presently, Safaricom charges Sh50 for replacement and fresh SIM listing.

Parliament postponed voting on the Finance Bill 2022 last week due to a lack of quorum. They, however, must vote and pass or reject the proposals between this afternoon and Thursday before the House breaks ahead of the August 9 general elections.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.