Kakamega County Commissioner John Ondego and area governor Fernandes Barasa during Madaraka Day celebrations at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega town on June 1, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega governor Fernandes Barasa has called for the amendment of the Finance Bill 2023 to remove sections that would impose additional taxes on Kenyans.

Barasa said instead of introducing new taxes, the government should be working on reducing the high cost of living.

“The Bill proposes a raft of new taxes which will make life more difficult for Kenyans. I appeal to MPs to review this Bill. They have a chance to be the heroes, by voting to save Kenyans from additional taxes. Kenyans are already suffering,” Barasa said.

Barasa, who spoke during the 60th Madaraka Day celebrations at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega on Thursday, called on lawmakers to listen to Kenyans and do the right thing.

The Bill, currently before parliament, contains tax proposals that have widely been criticised as they would complicate life for Kenyans if passed in its current form.

The most controversial proposal in the Bill is the three per cent housing levy. According to the Bill, salaried Kenyans will have a three per cent deduction from their monthly pay, which will be channelled to the affordable housing scheme.

“MPs have to listen to Kenyans as they discuss the Bill. Please consider the view of the public. We are not opposing payment of taxes but if there are aspects that will increase the cost of living even more, then they need to be amended,” Barasa said.

The Bill which contains 84 clauses, seeks to amend various tax laws and related statutes to expand the tax base and allow Kenya Revenue Authority to generate more revenue.

Further, Barasa called for a timely release of county funds saying the delayed disbursement has slowed down development in regions.

“We have made appeals to the national government and we are looking forward to a situation where disbursement of funds will be on the 15th day of the month,” he said.

Barasa also urged the National Treasury to disburse all the funds owed to counties, to avoid piling of pending bills.

Deputy governor Ayub Savula said he fears that legislators may be lured into passing the controversial Bill.

Savula noted that even if the Bill fails at the first stage, the government may find a way of ensuring it succeeds at the second stage.

“Parliament is a waste of time, the first time they will be defeated because they don’t have numbers, then the second time it will be returned by a Presidential memorandum,” Savula said.

He added: “We need to talk to the President, as leaders, and tell him Kenyans have refused."