‘Ruto’s Finance Bill is punishment to Kenyans’ – Azimio
Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party has termed the Finance Bill 2023 proposed by President William Ruto's administration as a piece of punishment for Kenyans.
In a statement, Azimio accused Kenya Kwanza administration of turning against its promises to the common Kenyans of lessening the burdens of living by proposing tax increments.
"It is even more shocking that a regime that promised to lessen the burden of the so-called hustlers, mama mboga, watu wa mjengo, can turn its back so soon on the same people. The tsunami of taxes in that Bill will bury everyone, especially the jobless youth and the poor struggling down at the bottom. The Bill is a promissory note to strangle and suffocate the hustlers from whose necks Ruto promised to remove the rope," the statement read in part.
Azimio has promised to mobilise its MPs to shoot down the Bill, but expressed fears that the government could 'buy' opposition MPs to pass the Bill.
"We wish to make it clear from the outset that as a party, we will try our best to ensure that this anti-people budget is not passed by the National Assembly. In the event that Kenya Kwanza uses its hired majority and passes the Bill as it is, we want the people of Kenya to understand that it is Kenya Kwanza’s Bill. It is Kenya Kwanza’s budget. It will be Kenya Kwanza strangling Kenyans. We will instruct our MPs to have nothing to do with it," Azimio added.
The Bill seeks to implement a number of changes, including a change in turnover tax, which is currently applicable on sales worth Ksh1 million and above and it stands at one per cent. The Bill proposes that the tax be applied on sales from as low as Ksh500, 000. The tax is being raised from 1 per cent to 3 per cent.
The Bill also seeks to raise pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) taxes from the current 30 per cent to 35 per cent on those earning Ksh500, 000 and above.
The Finance Bill 2023 also proposes a deduction of 3 per cent of basic salaries to finance the affordable housing scheme.
"We find it curious that while not everyone qualifies for the proposed affordable housing regime, everyone is expected to pay. This is illegal borrowing. According to the Bill, those who do not qualify for the affordable houses will have their monies refunded or transferred to beneficiaries, after seven years. There is no mention of interest accrued on the money," Azimio protested.
Azimio has also faulted the government for proposing a 15 percent tax against digital content creators, saying that the move will kill innovation and leave the youth with few options of creating income.
The Bill also proposes that in the event a business or an individual has a dispute with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over taxes owed, that individual or company will be required to deposit 20 per cent of the disputed amount with KRA before the matter can be heard by the Tax Appeals Tribunal.
It has also proposed a 30 percent taxation on per diems, which the opposition outfit has opposed.
The opposition now proposes an immediate stoppage of non-essential government expenditures including the appointment of Chief Administrative Secretaries and also reduction in the size of government.
"Excess cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, directorates, advisors, aides, departments and CASs are gobbling up finances for no good value for money," Azimio stated.
"(The government should) abolish money being spent on political operations that are disguised as relief food distribution or fundraisers. It makes no sense at all for a Kenya Kwanza operative to spend Ksh20 million on a chopper to distribute 1 million worth of food. It makes no sense for a principal secretary to spend Ksh10 million on a chopper to deliver Ksh200, 000 at a fundraiser. This madness must stop in the interest of austerity."
Azimio also wants the government to cut down on domestic and international travel, conferences, workshops, and training and freeze ministerial out-of-station allowances, ministerial house allowances and domestic allowances for cabinet and principal secretaries.
The opposition also wants the government to end corruption and theft of public funds.