Kenya Kwanza's tax concessions are not enough, says Azimio

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi address the media after the Azimio PG meeting at County Hall, Nairobi on June 18, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition is maintaining pressure against the Finance Bill, 2024, despite concessions on some of the punitive taxes by President William Ruto.

The coalition on Tuesday urged “vigilance” among Kenyans, even as they called on a bipartisan approach to dealing with the Bill’s contentious issues. National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said the coalition would take Ruto’s assurances that the controversial taxes were shelved with a pinch of salt.

“The taste of the pudding is in the eating. That is just talk. Let us see it first in the report of the committee. Even beyond that, we need to see the intent to have the report implemented at the committee stage,” the Ugunja MP told The Standard.

At a press briefing last evening, Wandayi said the coalition would shoot down the Finance Bill if some changes would not be shelved and wants it withdrawn.

“Despite the changes announced today, we as a coalition, are not convinced that they go deep enough to make the end product be a law that can promote investment and economic growth and contain corruption, especially the budgeted corruption and wasteful spending. We will therefore push for further changes to the Bill and turn it into a document for growth and not stagnation,” said Wandayi.

He added that some of the unpopular tax proposals, such as the VAT on bread and the motor vehicle tax were part of “mind games” for Kenya Kwanza to come out as heroes by eventually shelving them.

“The evil mind that conceived it was simply testing the resolve and the emotions of Kenyans. It takes a bad government to govern through mind games and Kenya Kwanza is one such government,” added Wandayi, demanding the release of those arrested in the protests.

Mumias East MP Peter Salasya said the Bill should be suspended, arguing the dropped taxes were a ruse. “Dropping VAT on bread or the eco-levy are not solutions. The Finance Bill of 2023 is already hurting Kenyans and the new one will only pile into the burden,” he said.

Matungulu MP Stephen Mule said it was fishy that Kenya Kwanza MPs went to State House ahead of the Bill’s tabling, accusing the Executive of interfering with Parliament’s independence. “Why do you need to take the Bill to State House? Can’t they think on their own?”

Raila Odinga’s ODM party has directed it’s members against foreign travel, urging them to be present to defeat the unpopular proposals.