Kenyan companies and individual citizens overwhelmingly presented submissions challenging contentious clauses in the Finance Bill 2023 in a stark departure from previous years.
This is according to a report by Parliament's Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning, indicating that more than 1000 submissions were presented to lawmakers during the public participation window.
"The committee observed that the number of individual citizens and corporates who had submitted memoranda on the Bill was phenomenally higher than the previous years, an indication that Kenyans are taking interest in legislation," stated Committee Chairperson and Molo MP Kuria Kimani.
During a public participation forum held between May 22nd and May 29th, 133 stakeholders presented oral submissions challenging various clauses in the Finance Bill with more than 230 Kenyans emailing in their submissions.
These ranged from law and accounting firms, industry and professional lobby groups, trade associations, students, artists and civil society groups.
"Majority of the stakeholders were opposed to the amendment proposing that a taxpayer deposits 20 per cent of the disputed amount with the Commissioner for cases determined by theTax Appeals Tribunal and ruled in favour of KRA before filing an appeal in the High Court," stated Kimani.
"They observed that the proposed amendment will increase the cost of doing business in the country hence make Kenya an unattractive business environment."
Another proposal that received strong feedback was the housing levy, with dozens of firms and 87 Kenyans presenting submissions opposing its introduction.
The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, KNCCI urged Parliament to scrap the Housing levy, proposed at 3 per cent in the Finance Bill 2023 with the lobby group stating this would increase the cost of employment and lead to job cuts.
Those who submitted comments also overwhelmingly proposed that Parliament re-consider Treasury's proposal to increase VAT on fuel from 8 per cent to 16 per cent, saying it would push up the cost of basic goods.
The Federation of Public Transport Operators similarly argued that an increase in VAT on petroleum products would see Kenyans pay higher for public transport and would drive some out of business.
"Delete Clause 28 to retain the initial rate of 8 per cent of VAT on fuel because an increase will push public service vehicle operators out of business," stated the lobby group.