The men and woman who can ease or worsen Kenyans’ tax burden

Photo credit: Designed by Chrispus Bargorett

The 15-member National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning committee will over the next five days determine the fate of the tax proposals in the contentious Finance Bill, 2024, which has drawn sharp criticism from industry groups and individual taxpayers.

The committee, dominated by lawmakers allied to the governing Kenya Kwanza coalition, has retreated to Naivasha to compile its report after a rigorous two-week engagement with members of the public on the Bill, which if approved as is, will increase various taxes and introduce new ones.

While the majority of Kenyans will Thursday afternoon be keenly watching the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u present the budget statement in Parliament, the parliamentary committee holds the key to the contents of the Finance Bill. The committee chaired by Molo MP Kuria Kimani can, for instance, propose amendments to the Bill before approval or rejection. 

More than 1,000 stakeholders appeared before the committee and gave varied views on the proposed law.

Individual taxpayers and entities, including the church and business lobbies like Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KMA), will be looking to the committee to roll back some of the painful tax measures —which the Treasury maintains are necessary to bridge the budget deficit and cut the appetite for borrowing.

Business leaders have strongly opposed some of the proposed tax measures, warning they would stoke inflation, dampen investments and weaken the ability of the economy to create jobs. The Finance Bill proposes to, among others, increase taxes on bread, edible oils, renewable energy solutions, motor vehicles, and financial services.

The Treasury has also proposed to introduce a controversial environmental levy on wide-range of goods like mobile phones, TV and batteries, with the charge ranging from Sh98 per item to Sh1, 275. It also proposed to increase taxes on items like M-Pesa, airtime, Internet data and bank transfers as well as alcohol and cigarettes in efforts to raise an additional Sh323 billion in taxes for the financial year that starts July.

Those joining Mr Kimani in determining whether the Finance Bill will pass as proposed by the Treasury or with amendments include nine MPs from the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition and six from the opposition Azimio coalition.

The Kenya Kwanza MPs who will sway the decision on the Bill, which has been backed by the Cabinet, include Mr Kimani and vice-chairperson Benjamin Lang’at, the Ainamoi MP.

Other members of the committee from Kenya Kwanza are Joseph Makilap (Baringo North), Joseph Munyoro (Kigumo), Julius Ruto (Kesses), Paul Kibichiy (Chesumei), George Sunkuyia (Kajiado West), Umulkher Kassim (Nominated), and Shadrack Mwiti (South Imenti).

The Azimio MPs in the committee are Joseph Oyula (Butula), Okoume Adipo (Karachuonyo), David Mboni (kitui Rural), Ariko Namoit (Turkana South), Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Machele Soud (Mvita).

“We are retreating to consider the views of members of the public who made very valuable presentations on the Finance Bill, 2024,” Mr Kimani said. “I want to assure those who made their presentations, including young Kenyans, that we will take their views into account. We will ensure the Bill contains provisions that serve the best interest of Kenyans.”

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