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By insisting on fuel tax, Rotich is out of touch with public’s mood

By The Standard | Published Sun, September 2nd 2018 at 00:00, Updated September 1st 2018 at 23:09 GMT +3
National Treasury Henry Rotich

Parliament on Thursday approved an amendment to the Finance Bill 2018 that suspended the implementation of 16 per cent VAT on fuel, which was to take effect yesterday and would have taken the price of petrol to the Sh130 mark.

But since then, there have been discordant voices on Parliament’s move, foremost said to emanate from the man in charge of the National Treasury, Henry Rotich, and yesterday the Kenya Revenue Authority, the agency mandated to collect our taxes.

For the record, Kenyans are among the most taxed people in the world. And in recent years, despite national economic growth upturn, the majority have struggled to put food on the table.

Yet the government keeps rolling out one mega project after another, some with little direct impact on people’s lives but with a heavy burden on the taxpayer because their financing is either expensive loans or additional taxes. The country’s landscape is littered with stalled projects, a testimony to unsound planning and spending of the Jubilee regime.

It is in this regard that we welcome the National Assembly’s judgement in staying the taxation, having correctly read the mood of the public.

Granted, there have been questions as to the manner Parliament dealt with the matter, but of importance is that the Treasury ought to appreciate the real issues being raised given that additional taxation on fuel is bound to have ripple effects on the prices of essential goods and services, triggering runaway inflation.

We acknowledge that the National Assembly’s move will set back the Exchequer by Sh70 billion in revenue, but we believe that in this loss lies an opportunity.

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What Rotich now needs to do is to sort out the mess without punishing Kenyans -- by stopping the massive plunder and wastage within government. And this is because conservative figures estimate that up to a third of our national Budget is looted by government operatives and well-connected crooks.

To Rotich, we want to caution you that the people are not an eternal spring to run to every time your bucket empties. To put it simply, the donkey is tired.?

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