Government's tax policies hurting Kenyans, says Azimio coalition

Azimio leader Raila Odinga with coalition leaders during a press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The Azimio coalition has criticised the government for imposing “unreasonable and unsustainable” taxes on Kenyans, saying they are hurting the economy and the livelihoods of the people.

The coalition, led by leader Raila Odinga, issued a statement after holding a summit on Tuesday, March 5, to discuss the state of the economy, the implementation of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report, and Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship.

The summit said it was opposed to the 16 per cent tax on petroleum products, the housing tax that resembled the colonial hut tax, the high PAYE rates for workers, the taxation of retiree pensions, and the taxation of farm produce.

“It is our position that forcing farmers to part with Sh5 for every Sh100 they make from their farm produce is unreasonable and cruel. We encourage our farmers to resist this tax,” the statement read.

The leaders also expressed their support for the NADCO report, which they said was a product of bipartisan consensus and wide public participation.

 They urged Parliament to fast-track the processing of the nine bills that were lined up for the implementation of the report.

However, the summit warned of “forces in Kenya Kwanza, in and outside parliament, who are determined to undermine the report.”

They called on President William Ruto to rein in the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament and some members of the National Executive who were “hell-bent to derail NADCO.”

“Should any efforts to undermine or tamper with the report succeed, there will be a very heavy price to pay,” the statement said.

The leaders also reiterated their support for the principle of the two-thirds gender rule and its inclusion as part of the NADCO report.

On Odinga’s bid for the AUC chairmanship, the summit said it was in the best interest of the country and the East African Community that he takes the seat.

They appreciated the support of the neighbours and other countries across the continent for his bid.

“We are also encouraged by the personal efforts by the Party Leader to win the seat without relying entirely on the endorsement by the state and we all committed to reach out to friends and fellow leaders out there in support of our leader’s bid,” the statement added.

The meeting also welcomed the efforts by Ruto to back Odinga, saying it was not a partisan political issue but a matter of national pride and image.

“As a coalition, we have committed to stay united and stay the course of holding the Kenya Kwanza regime to account and to fight for the rights and dignity of the people of Kenya,” the statement said.

“In that regard, as we support Odinga for the AU, we will also support the right of Kenyans to affordable living, lower taxes and a functional economy that guarantees decent livelihoods.”

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