Kenya Kwanza will force through Finance Bill but…

Monday, May 15th, 2023 03:40 | By
National Treasury building.
National Treasury building. PHOTO/Print

The Finance Bill 2023, which is essentially a bill that gives KRA the go ahead to collect taxes is probably going pass.

Well, many Kenyans wish that it does not. But then some MPs, from both the ruling coalition and the few who belong nowhere or have decamped, have been bragging about government never losing.

Political parties, once they assume power, rarely maintain the kind of popularity that swept them to power. But if there was ever a faster ascension to the unpopular pedestal, Kenya Kwanza is the monument.

Erratic MPs and apologist with limited understanding of economic issues can’t run around hollering about government never losing and expect to win the masses. It is the same with the poaching of opposition MPs which makes a mockery of the call for a strong opposition.

There is lack of strategic communication and foresight on the tax implications. Granted, governments are run on tax and even the loans that governments get, whether commercial or concessional loans, it is taxes that underpin the security of these loans.

That means that a solid tax regime that would help the government deliver on its mandate and promises is important. But a tax regime that is not aligned to the promises a ruling regime made on its campaign trail can be catastrophic.

George Bush Sr won the presidency in 1988 against the backdrop of tax promises popularly christened “read my lips” that endeared him to the American people. But his presidency from 1989 to 1993 saw him turn on the “read my lips” promise not to raise taxes as he brokered a breakthrough budget deal that contributed to his loss to Bill Clinton in his re-election bid.

The reality is that the party that forms government counts on its legislative arm to push through its legislative agenda. However, even with a majority and a manufactured super majority through poaching of MPs from other parties, the ruling coalition needs to get the citizenry’s buy-in, whether through statecraft of strategic communication, but certainly not through chest thumping legislators.

Kenya Kwanza rode the bottom-up economic model message to power and we need to see how these proposed taxes will help the guys at the bottom create capital and build wealth.

Attempts to push through their legislative agenda through a calculated onslaught of any dissenting voices and riding on a vicious affront of the party that served this country for ten years as both a coalition and party will definitely not augur well with the majority poor.

In fact, how Azimio can get into bipartisan or even multipartisan talks when the powers-that-be are killing the second biggest party in Azimio is baffling.

The mischief by Jubilee renegades should not distract Kenyans from the real issues – a tax regime that will make life unbearable.

By taxing more rather than giving tax reliefs to individuals and businesses to create capital and reinvest, Kenya Kwanza is reneging on its own promises.

Well, unbeknown to many Kenyans, the immediate consequences of the finance bill are higher cost of fuel by between Sh8 and Sh12, high cost of food and doing business, and for hustlers like those in the 14-seater matatu business, the future looks bleak.

They will either run out of business or load the cost on Kenyans. The cost of commuting to work will shoot and with the many deductions on our payslips Kenyans must brace themselves for pulling up their skin, because not many will afford socks.

— Hansen Owilla is a PhD candidate in political communication

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