Kimani Ichung'wah defends Ruto's taxes ahead of Parliament debate

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah speaks on October 22, 2022 during the vetting of the then-SMEs ministry CS nominee Simon Chelugui. [Kelly Ayodi, Stanard]

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah has vowed to defend the contested Finance Bill, 2024 as part of his duty to garner backing for government legislation in the House.

The proposed tax changes would require Kenyans to contribute more of their earnings to the government through increased taxation on everyday goods and services.

Among the contentious proposals are taxes on breakfast essentials, milk, and bread, an annual motor vehicle tax based on vehicle value, and higher taxes on bank and mobile money transfers.

Speaking on KTN News, Ichung’wah argued that a significant portion of the government's Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue is allocated to refunding manufacturers of milk and bread.

"We are essentially subsidizing the lifestyle of the middle-class Kenyans," he stated.

The Kikuyu lawmaker contends that the tax adjustments will benefit those living below the poverty line by funding essential services like infrastructure development through income tax deductions from the middle class.

He also justified the motor vehicle tax, saying that car owners, who demand better roads, must contribute despite existing vehicle importation taxes and fuel charges allocated for road maintenance.

“There are people who own cars that use roads built from taxes paid by people who don’t own cars. The car owners demand better roads than everybody else,” he said.

Ichung’wah also sought to allay fears of further tax hikes to meet President Ruto’s target of increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio from 14 percent to 22 percent.

“The president doesn’t mean that if you were paying 14 percent you now pay 22 percent. It means bringing more Kenyans into the tax net because many are not paying tax,” he said.

He further clarified that the aim is to expand the tax base by ensuring jobless Kenyans find employment and integrating technology in tax collection through the Kenya Revenue Authority's (KRA) Electronic Tax Invoice Management System (eTIMS).

Despite public skepticism about the Finance Bill, 2024's public participation process, Ichung’wah rejected the notion that Parliament merely serves the executive, emphasizing the MPs responsibility to make informed decisions.

Limuru III Meeting

Regarding the Limuru III meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Ichung’wah, who hails from Mount Kenya, dismissed it as an ethnic mobilisation attempt and vowed not to attend.

He criticised proponents of the one-man, one-vote, one-shilling revenue-sharing formula, alleging their insincerity and reliance on emotions rather than empirical data.

Ironically, Ichung’wah claimed credit for coining the idea, which now enjoys the support of DP Rigathi Gachagua.