12th Parliament hiked taxes but tried to bridge yawning gender gap
As the term of the National Assembly comes to an end today, People Daily takes a look at the highs and lows in the past five years.
The Twelfth Parliament will be remembered as the House that increased the Value Added Tax to 16 per cent from 14 per cent that had been settled on to cushion Kenyans against the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lawmakers last year passed the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2020 into law, which increased VAT on fuel to 16 per cent as well as the introduction of the Petroleum Development Levy which increased fuel prices by a further Sh5.
Members also supported the rollback of pandemic tax relief which returned taxation to pre-pandemic figures.
The Finance and National Planning Committee, in its report on the Bill adopted by the House, noted: “A review of the VAT reduction...shows consumers have not benefited through commensurate lowering [of] the cost of goods and services,” the report says.
The current Parliament will also be remembered for increasing the country’s debt ceilings twice in five years to at Sh10 trillion currently.
Members also oversaw the re-organisation of the House committees twice leading to the removal of various chairpersons, vice chairpersons and members who were not loyal to the ruling Jubilee.
Two years ago, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale was replaced by Kipipiri’s Amos Kimunya as the Leader of Majority. Duale is an ally of Deputy President William Ruto.
Others who were shown the door from committees include David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South), Catherine Waruguru (Laikipia Woman Rep), Ali Wario (Bura) and Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and William Kisang’ (Marakwet West).
Despite challenges, among the notable achievements of the 12th Parliament is the passage of various bills including the Employment Amendment Bill that scrapped the requirement that applicants for public service jobs produce clearance certificates from various entities. The Bill was sponsored by Nominated MP Gideon Keter.
This Parliament also had the highest number of elected women since independence.
At least 23 women were elected to the National Assembly, up from the 16 elected in 2013. This, added to the 47 women-only seats and half of the 12 nominees by political parties, brought the number of women in the National Assembly to 76.
Speaking yesterday, three MPs differed on whether the House had achieved its agenda.
MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) and Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) agreed that Parliament operated in unprecedented times as many members had ditched the parties that sponsored them to support other parties.
Kiarie said that the House started on a wrong footing when chairpersons and vice chairpersons of committees were appointed from outside thus compromising the independence of the House.
Kega (pictured) said the next Parliament should ensure members are loyal to the parties which sponsored them.
“As we go to the polls, it is my hope that the next Parliament will have members who will be loyal to their parties,” he said.
Osotsi said that the next Parliament should protect its independence.