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Rotich-Muturi in closed-door meeting over Finance Bill 2018

Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich (Left) with speaker of Parliament Justine Muturi
Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich (Left) with speaker of Parliament Justine Muturi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich is currently holed up in a closed-door meeting with National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Mr Rotich, Mr Muturi, Leader of Majority Aden Duale, Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa, Finance and National Planning chairman Joseph Limo, Attorney General Paul Kihara and the Clerk of the National Assembly are said to be fine-tuning the Finance Bill, 2018 before it is presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent.

The meeting comes in the wake of the Treasury’s decision to implement the 16 per cent value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products despite MPs voting last week to postpone it by two more years.

The tax on petroleum came into force on Saturday, September 1, raising pump prices 12 per cent to an average of Sh128.70 per litre of super petrol, of which the government will be collecting Sh55.16 per litre.

The spike in pump prices triggered nationwide protests with the Kenya Independent Petroleum Dealers Association announcing an indefinite strike, demanding the shelving of the tax.

The strike has affected supply of fuel in parts of the country, with the association claiming to control 55 per cent of the retail market.

The VAT law was enacted through the Finance Bill, 2013 but its enforcement was delayed by three years. MPs in 2016 changed the Finance Bill to delay implementation of the tax by two more years.

The latest parliamentary amendment postponing implementation of the 16 per cent VAT on petroleum to September 2020 requires assent by President Kenyatta, who is currently in China, to gain legal force.

Attempts by a section of MPs to reconvene the House to deliberate on the Treasury’s decision to hike petroleum prices flopped early this week after they learnt that the Finance Bill was still within Parliament.

The Finance Bill 2018 is likely to leave Parliament today for State House for the President’s signature when the meeting concludes its discussion.

Members of the press have been barred from covering the meeting that has been termed as ‘internal discussions.’ The Sergeant-at-Arms have been deployed to man the entrance to two doors leading to committee Room 9 where the meeting is currently underway.

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