Fresh bid to amend Finance Act begins after MP introduces Bill

Kandara MP Chege Njuguna. [File, Standard]

A Kenya Kwanza MP has Introduced an Amendment Bill to the Finance Act 2023 seeking to exempt farmers from the electronic Tax Invoice Management System (e-TIMS).

In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula, received on March 6, Kandara MP Chege Njuguna wants the e-TIMS provision to strictly apply only to income derived from agricultural produce which exceeds Sh2 million annually.

“The Tax Procedure Act 2015 is amended in Section 23A by inserting the following new sub paragraph immediately after sub paragraph 5. The provisions of this section shall only apply to income derived from agricultural produce which exceeds Sh2 million per annum,” reads the proposed amendment Bill.

This, the MP said, would reduce the obligations placed on farmers who may not comply with the e-TIMs requirement as they are not technologically savvy or reside in areas afflicted by poor connectivity and insufficient or unreliable electricity supply. 

He noted that while the requirement was likely to increase tax revenues, encourage fair competition and market efficiency it would also impose additional compliance burdens on small-scale operators.

“There is also a risk it could discourage entrepreneurship and inhibit the growth of small businesses, which are critical drivers of economic development and job creation,” he said.

By incorporating relevant amendments and adopting a holistic approach to tax policy, the MP said, the government can achieve its objectives of fostering economic growth, fairness, and sustainability in the tax.

The MP’s move comes a week after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua announced that the government would conduct a comprehensive review of taxes upon realising mistakes in the Finance Act.

“On the issue of taxes that was passed by Parliament, we have realised it has some mistakes as it seeks to levy agricultural products. I have talked to the President and the Treasury CS and we shall talk to our MPs. We can't help our farmer with one hand while we oppress him on the other,” Gachagua said.

The Finance Act that introduced the requirement among other controversial proposals like the contentious housing levy, increment of the fuel tax from 8 to 16 per cent, among other levies was passed into law by the President on June 26 last year and subsequently took effect on July 1 last year.

Two weeks ago, lawmakers joined farmers to chase away KRA officers who had visited a farmers’ meeting to sensitize them on e-TIMs registration.

While calling for sober implementation of the laws, the leaders said the government should not become an impediment to farmers in its bid to raise revenue. 

“How do you tell an importer from London to acquire e-TIMS for him to buy coffee in Kenya. This will claw back the gains made in the Agriculture sub-sector reforms,” noted Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga.