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Governor Barasa rejects levy on housing, warns Kenyans will suffer

 Governor Fernandes Barasa inspecting guard of honor mounted for him by Kakamega county enforcement officers during the launching of the county integrated development blue print at Bukhungu stadium on May 18, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega Governor Fernandez Barasa has opposed the proposed housing levy, saying if implemented, Kenyans will suffer.

According to Barasa, it is wrong for the Kenya Kwanza government that rode to power on the promise of lowering cost of living to hike taxes at a time when majority cannot afford basic things like flour and sugar.

The county boss urged MPs to put national interests ahead of political interests by amending some sections of the Finance Bill 2023.

Speaking in Kisa West ward, Khwisero constituency after attending a church service, Barasa reiterated that if the government is sincere about the levy it should be optional.

"The housing levy is a good idea but as leaders the levy idea has been introduced at the wrong time. Kenyans have submitted their views on the Finance Bill in the public participation. We just need to amend some sections to ensure the cost of living doesn't increase again," Barasa said.

President William Ruto has maintained that his government will not back down on its quest to collect more taxes from Kenyans in order to resuscitate the economy which he says he inherited when it was in ruins.

Barasa urged the Head of State to listen to the masses, withdraw the controversial Bill and postpone its implementation.

At the same time, the governor urged the national government to release funds owed to counties to avert a cash crunch in the devolved units.

"Sh66 billion was expected by May 31 as agreed upon with Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u but he is yet to do so, weeks before the end of the current Financial Year on June 30 during which all budgeted funds must be fully utilised," he stated.

Barasa, who chairs the Governor's Committee on Finance, has in the recent past taken on the Exchequer for reneging on the deal with counties, contravening the law that outlines release of county funds by 15th of every month.

"The National Treasury should expedite release of money for the two months so that we can fulfill what we promised. As of now all 47 counties are still owed Sh33.3 billion for April and Sh 31.45 billion for May."

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