Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has called for the amendment of controversial sections of the Finance Bill, 2023, saying the cost of living is already too high.
“The Bill proposes a raft of new taxes which will make life more difficult for Kenyans. I appeal to MPs to review it. They have a chance to be the heroes of today by casting a selfless vote for Kenyans who are suffering,” Barasa said.
Barasa was speaking during the 60th Madaraka Day celebrations held at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega where he called on lawmakers to listen to the voice of Kenyans.
The bill currently before Parliament contains tax proposals that have widely been criticised as worsening the cost of living. The most controversial proposal is the three percent housing levy.
“MPs have to listen to Kenyans when discussing the Bill, please look at the view of the public. We don’t oppose payment of taxes but if there are aspects that will increase the cost of living then they need to be amended,” Barasa said.
The Bill which contains 84 clauses, seeks to amend various tax laws and related statutes to expand the tax base and allow Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to generate more revenue.
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Further, Barasa called for the timely release of county funds saying the delayed disbursement has slowed down development.
“We have made appeals to the National Government and we are looking forward to a situation where disbursement of funds will be on the 15th day of the month,” he said.
Barasa reiterated that the National Treasury should disburse the funds owed to counties, to avoid piling of pending bills.
Deputy Governor Ayub Savula feared that legislators would be lured into passing the Bill because of their numbers in Parliament.
Savula noted that even if the Bill fails at the first stage, the government will find a way of ensuring it succeeds at the second stage.
“Parliament is a waste of time, the first time they will be defeated because they don’t have numbers then the second time it will be returned by a Presidential memorandum,” Savula said.
The two leaders have joined other politicians, unions, and citizens in opposing future considerations of the Bill.
This, as Kenyans shoulder the burden of the cost of living alongside more taxes on commodities.
“We need to talk to the President as leaders and tell him that Kenyans have refused. Even the housing levy if we leave it to Parliament, we will suffer,” he added.