Raila-Ruto dialogue team in private deliberations with Treasury on taxes as talks close

National Dialogue Committee Co-Chairmen Kimani Ichungwa, Kalonzo Musyoka and Opiyo Wandayi respectively at Bomas of Kenya on November 09, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard] 

The National Dialogue Committee (NDC) has today privately held talks with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u after last week’s meeting collapsed.

The committee had sought Prof Ndung’u’s input even though he had already appeared before the committee.

In a meeting where the media was locked out, the committee’s Co-chair Kimani Ichungwa defended their decision saying that they wanted “a very candid engagement on the state of the economy and what is possible now, in the medium term and long term.”

The committee co-chair said that deliberations with the CS centered around the tax regime and how certain measures have to be taken to address the rising cost of living.

Ichungwa said they have agreed on the timelines and tax reviews that will be required.

“We had a long engagement with the Cabinet Secretary in charge of National Treasury to have a situational analysis around the question of the cost of living and the tax regime to also tie the knots on particular timelines of issues we would want the National Treasury and the government of the republic of Kenya to consider,” he said.

An insider who sought anonymity, said that the CS was categorical that it is impossible to implement immediate tax reductions. However, he indicated that a potential review might be considered in February next year.

Addressing the media at 6 pm on Wednesday after the meeting that started at 9am, Ichungw’a said that there had been “tremendous” progress on the five thematic areas and they would consider other issues under agenda number six that were raised by Kenyans.

Committee co-chair Kalonzo Musyoka said that they are working to ensure that the expectations of Kenyans are met.

“If you give us time, we will be able to release our report by Saturday. We are doing everything we can and are working as a team,” said Kalonzo.

Other members of the committee remained tight-lipped only saying that they are finalising the nitty-gritty and will present details in the final report expected to be released on Saturday.

“The country will be able to see the details in the final report once we adopt it on Friday for eventual release on Saturday,” said Ichungw’a.

This is the third time the committee has hit a deadlock over the issue of cost of living. The committee failed to reach a consensus during the first round with the other four contentious issues including the audit of the 2022 General Election, the fidelity of political parties and the creation of the office of the Leader of the Opposition and entrenchment of the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

The committee held engagements with the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o and the Institute of Economic Affairs CEO, Kwame Owino among others.

During his first appearance before the committee on November 9, CS Ndungu’u argued that the only way to resuscitate the economy and deal with the rising cost of living would be to nurture the markets and have strategic interventions to support the manufacturing and housing sectors.

“The Hustler Fund, Government to Government deal, affordable housing is an intervention. The whole issue is you start it off and once it is working, you release it to the market. For it to work, the market has to be nurtured,” he said.