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September 20, 2018

MPs mull budget cuts as Uhuru rejects Finance Bill

National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi.file
National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi.file

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi yesterday said lawmakers might come up with a proposal for supplementary budget estimates when they meet next week.

In the proposal, Muturi said some programmes may get budgetary cuts. He recalled the National Assembly next Tuesday and Thursday after President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected the Finance Bill 2018 with reservations.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of a National Assembly retreat with members of the Editors Guild, Muturi said the MPs might initiate budget cuts to cushion Kenyans on the high cost of living.

“To address the issue of expenditure, there is a proposal to bring a supplementary budget estimate.”

He said until he communicates to the House directly on some of the recommendations made by Uhuru, he cannot diverge all the information on what will be discussed.

Read: Uhuru cuts fuel VAT to 8%, State hospitality expenditure

“What is now obvious is that we might have budget cuts.”

National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi said NASA is calling for a Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday to review Uhuru’s recommendation on the Finance bill. “If they are reasonable we will accept them, if they are not we shall take a position opposed to the President’s.”

Mbadi said the President is reacting emotionally.

“The Executive saying if we do not amend budget here or there we might not get funding is an alarmist behaviour,” he said. Uhuru rejected the Finance Bill, 2018 which would have seen the 16 per cent tax on petroleum products shelved until 2020.

He received the Bill for assent from Muturi on Thursday.

“The special sittings of the Assembly shall deal with the message of the president in respect of his reservations,” a gazette notice reads. The 16% VAT on petroleum products was imposed on September 1, resulting into a sharp increase in fuel prices.

The introduction of the charge has seen fuel prices rise to Sh130 per litre for petrol and almost Sh100 for kerosene. The mid-month review by ERC was due yesterday. From the development, it is unlikely the tax will be suspended for another two years as was anticipated following comments by various leaders.

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