Church urges State to review the Finance Bill
Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) bishops have asked the government to review tax proposals contained in the Finance Bill which is currently in the public participation stage.
The bishops said that currently, the majority of the population cannot afford any tax increase due to the harsh economic times they are enduring adding that the Bill should be subjected to thorough public scrutiny through meaningful public participation before it is presented to Parliament.
“With the high rise in unemployment and poverty levels, Kenyans are struggling to make ends meet, businesses are struggling, families are breaking down and economic hardships contributing to high cases of mental illnesses, depression and even loss of lives,” the bishops said in a statement that was read by ACK Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit.
Insensitive to Kenyans
Sapit argued that the government is increasingly proving to be insensitive to the plight of the majority of Kenyans whom he said are sinking deeper into economic hardship despite its appetite to increase revenue collection through taxation to fund its budget.
“It beats logic that even with the evident financial constraints, the government has not communicated a way forward on the budget deficits, delayed salaries and pension payments and indication of skewed priorities. With the high rise in unemployment and poverty levels, Kenyans are struggling to make ends meet, businesses are struggling, families are breaking down and economic hardships contributing to high cases of mental illnesses, depression and even loss of lives,” Sapit said.
The clergy attributed the financial woes that the country is facing to excessive spending and mismanagement of public resources by the government which is taking precedence over the basic needs of the citizens. “Impunity in the management of public resources is becoming the order of the day. We demand that the government lays a clear structure that will curb wasteful public expenditure and be sensitive to the distressful debt situation and the dire economic hardship that faces the common citizen, and is worsening by the day,” ACK’s House of Bishops said.
The clergy attributed the financial woes that the country is facing to excessive spending and mismanagement of public resources by the government
“Azimio has resorted to holding protests and picketing in an effort to compel the government to address the high cost of basic consumer goods among other issues. Unfortunately, this call for action has caused business losses, especially in the (Nairobi’s) Central Business District,” Sapit said.
The bishops accused the politicians of taking advantage of the unemployed youth by creating an appealing narrative for them to support their political agenda noting that the move has resulted in the destruction of property, looting and loss of lives.
“There is a sense of animosity already in the air, and that if not checked can lead to social unrest. This needs to stop. We call upon the protagonists to stop the stand-off and engage in healthy political processes to resolve all issues of difference,” Sapit added.
Seeing that the bipartisan talks have started on shaky ground, Anglican Bishops offered to join other stakeholders including multi-faith bodies and business associations to mediate an all-inclusive national dialogue on the issues that may not have been resolved by the Otiende Amollo - George Murugara-led bipartisan delegation drawn from the opposition and the government respectively. “We shall invite the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio leaders to attend the talks after consultations with all the key stakeholders. As a nation, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our country remains peaceful and stable,” the bishops offered.
Train JSS teachers
Meanwhile, the ACK bishops have urged the government to train junior secondary school teachers to enable them to be well-prepared while rolling out the new curriculum.
They also said that there is a serious shortage of resources needed to support the effective learning and development of students at that academic level. “This being the foundational formative years of the child’s learning, the government must urgently prioritize resourcing of teacher training and increase support for junior secondary schools,” Sapit said.
Additionally, the ACK has revealed that it will support any regulation that will stem the proliferation of cultic practices in the church but insisted that such a law must promote religious freedoms for all citizens.
“The regulation of churches should not be the business of the government. The churches themselves can self-regulate in a better way through their umbrella bodies because they understand theology more than any government official. We will support any forthright agenda that enhances a regulated framework for the church to operate on and does not curtail on the freedom of worship,” Sapit said.