House rejects plan to reduce tax on betting

Abdulswamad Nassir
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Betting firms have failed to secure a tax reprieve after Parliament threw out a proposal to reduce tax on gaming from 35 per cent to 15 per cent.

MPs last week roundly defeated the proposal by the Finance and National Planning Committee which sought to reintroduce the amendments through the Finance Bill 2018 after shelving a similar bid in June through the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018.

The committee’s proposal to cut the share of sales that betting firms channel for social causes and charity from 25 per cent to five per cent was also defeated.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir led the onslaught on the reduction of the gaming tax saying the business takes away families’ resources.

“We should have been told the amount of money that the Kenya Revenue Authority has collected since introduction of the tax and the amount it will collect if we reduce taxation to 15 per cent,” he said.

Mr Nassir said the committee should instead have introduced an amendment to push up the tax to discourage gambling among the youth.

“We have been taxing basic commodities that matter to the lives of Kenyans and not what is killing our people.

“The attempt by the committee to reduce tax on gaming and gambling is a mockery and a shame to this House. Many people have been committing suicide, our children are not going to school and our people have refused to work. I oppose this amendment,” Murang’a Women Representative Sabina Chege said.

MP Kubai Iringo rejected the proposal saying Parliament cannot increase prices of food items and at the same time reduce taxes on gambling.

“It will be a big shame to the House that when countries like Italy have banned advertisement on gaming and lotteries, we are legislating to reduce taxes. Gaming and gambling is killing our children,” Mr Iringo said.

Runyenjes MP Cicely Mbarire expressed surprise that the committee succumbed to pressure from betting firms which had unsuccessfully lobbied Parliament before to cut the tax.

“As a wife and mother who doesn’t want our family resources to go to gambling, I am surprised that the committee found it fit to reduce tax on gaming from 35 to 15 per cent. We must stop this as our children have been using school fees to gamble,” she said.