Don't inflict more pain on road users, Mr Murkomen

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen addressing during the launch of KeNHA 2023-2027 Strategic Plan at Barabara Plaza in Nairobi on January 26, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

There is an unwavering determination by the Kenya Kwanza administration to raise taxes. That is understandable considering that it needs money - a lot of money - to seal the debt hole dug by the Jubilee government and which the current regime continues to deepen. William Ruto's government also desperately needs money to implement its development plans.

That said, there should be a limit to its tax ambitions. Consider the latest revelation by the Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen of a plan to charge Kenyans for using some of our old roads ostensibly to help build new roads and maintain the existing ones.

And not only that. The CS has also hinted at the possibility of increasing the road maintenance levy.

The proposals are preposterous considering that Kenyans have in recent months been paying a heavy price to keep their vehicles on the road due to the prevailing record-high fuel prices in extremely tough economic times.

When President Ruto took over from Uhuru Kenyatta slightly over a year ago, petrol was retailing at Sh159 per litre. Currently, it is going for Sh212 in Nairobi down from Sh217 a month ago.

Apart from the global dynamics, the high fuel prices have been occasioned by the enactment of the Finance Bill, 2023, which increased the VAT on petroleum products from eight to 16 per cent.

Ironically, while the government hoped to gain dividends, the move had the exact opposite effect. Kenya Revenue Authority recorded a deficit of Sh12.9 billion in tax collections from the oil sector after Kenyans reduced spending on petroleum products due to the high fuel prices.

It seems the government never learns from its mistakes as Murkomen's proposals will definitely make matters worse.

It is unconscionable for the government to mull such tax moves at a time when Kenyans, including the salaried ones and those in business can hardly make ends meet due to high taxation and a struggling economy. Mr Murkomen and the government that he serves seem to out of touch with the economic reality on the ground.

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