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State should curb corruption and wastage instead of increasing taxes

By The Standard | Published Thu, March 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2018 at 23:31 GMT +3
William Kibet, a pump attendant adjusts pump prices after an increase by the Energy Regulatory Commission at the Oilibya petrol station in Eldoret. [Photo by Eliud Kipsang/Standard]

Government’s proposal to come up with additional taxes that could rise the price of essential commodities, such as petroleum products, is unnecessary burden to Kenyans.

The news, coinciding with the report from Auditor General which showed that only about a quarter (27 per cent) of government ministries, departments and agencies could fully account for the taxpayers money, means that state has a long way to go on matters of accountability.

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Out of the audited 109 financial statements for the financial year 2015/2016, only 30 financial statements got a clean bill of health. This puts into question if in deed taxpayers get full value from the money they entrust the state with.

The gross estimated Government expenditure has been increasing over the last five years, almost hitting a double from Sh1.17 trillion in the year 2011/2012 to Sh2.25 trillion in 2015/2016 financial year. This has seen the public dig deeper in to their pockets to finance the budget.

But against this statistics, massive wastage of both tax and borrowed money has been reported with little or no punishment meted out to the perpetrators.

Introducing Value Added tax on petroleum products is an unnecessary burden to the tax payer who is demanding accountability from the many taxes the government gets from him or her.

Government should tread careful on this, even as it tries to dance to the tune of international institutions such as International Monetary Fund. Burdening citizens with such taxes at a time massive wastage is being reported across many ministries may not help improve the economy.

Prices of petroleum products have a far-reaching impact on multiple sectors such as transport and manufacturing and is, therefore, likely to lead to high cost of commodities.

The economy is still vulnerable to drought and floods and should this run into the already rising cost of crude oil, life will become unbearable. This, considering that the cost of electricity has also increased, makes the outlook gloomy.

Kenya now needs prudent financial managers who can see to it that every shilling of taxpayers’ money is put into proper use.

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Only when this is achieved can the state be justified to ask for additional money from the citizenry.