Babu Owino: Proposed Finance Bill a threat to ordinary Kenyans

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino has criticised the government for its handling of the Finance Bill 2024, arguing that it will disproportionately impact ordinary citizens.

Speaking on Spice FM on Thursday, June 20, Owino stressed the importance of investing in the local population to stimulate economic growth rather than burdening them with additional taxes.

"To grow an economy, one has to invest in the people, and in this case, it is those in the lower cadre," Owino said during the interview on Thursday, June 20.

 He highlighted concerns over the proposed 16 per cent VAT on bread, suggesting it would adversely affect consumers, retailers, manufacturers and wheat farmers, thus undermining local industries.

Regarding recent demonstrations against the Finance Bill, Owino expressed support, describing them as a justified response to the economic pressures faced by millions of Kenyans.

"Millions of Kenyans are barely surviving in this present economy," he noted.

The MP affirmed the opposition's solidarity with the ongoing peaceful protests across the country.

Responding to criticisms of the opposition's stance, Owino dismissed claims of indifference, asserting that many opposition legislators are poised to reject the Finance Bill 2024 during the upcoming vote.

 He emphasised their commitment to challenging government policies perceived as detrimental to the public interest.

Earlier this week, the government reversed course on several contentious tax proposals following public outcry.

 Taxes on bread, locally manufactured diapers, sanitary pads, motor vehicles, and eco-tax were among those withdrawn.

However, increases in taxes such as the road maintenance levy were upheld, prompting concerns about their impact on ordinary citizens.

The Finance Bill 2024 continues to provoke debate as the government seeks to balance fiscal policies with public sentiment amid ongoing economic challenges.