- He cited at least nine proposed tax measures that he said will sink taxpayers deeper if they are not reviewed.
- Parliament is currently receiving public views on the Bill, even as a number of President William Ruto allies maintain it will be passed as it is.
Azimio leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday fired a warning at the Kenya Kwanza administration over the Finance Bill 2023, which he maintains will "manufacture and distribute poverty in the country."
The opposition chief demanded a radical surgery of the Bill, especially on the tax measures, before the same is passed by Parliament.
The former Prime Minister said the Bill that is currently before Parliament will push more Kenyans into the ranks of the poor if passed as it is.
“The Finance Bill 2023 unfairly punishes a diminishing middle class that is already suffering severe blows and can least afford to pay more taxes,” he said.
“We continue to demand a major surgery to the Finance Bill in the interest of the suffering people of Kenya.”
He cited at least nine proposed tax measures that he said will sink taxpayers deeper if they are not reviewed.
They include the proposed 16 per cent on petroleum products, revision of the rate of tax applicable to the permanent establishment of foreign entity, deposit of 20 per cent of disputed tax before appealing judgment to the High Court and agency taxes such as withholding tax, excise duty of gaming and betting.
Others are introduction of withholding tax on payments made in respect to digital content monetisation, digital asset tax upon digital asset transfer or exchange value and marginal tax rate applicable to employees from 30 per cent to 35 per cent.
Raila also termed as toxic the proposal to introduce three per cent employee and employer contributions to the National Housing Development.
“It is our position that this Bill does not qualify as a just tax system. Yes, the country is ripe for tax reform. But this is not one of them. This proposal does not spur economic growth or generate wealth so that every family in this country can have opportunities. It traces and kills those opportunities,” he said.
The ODM chief has now threatened to mobilise supporters to oppose the Bill's implementation if the proposed taxation measures are not reconsidered.
“We make it clear that if this Bill is railroaded through Parliament, Kenya Kwanza must prepare that we will have no option but to mobilise citizens around the country to fight for themselves. We will have no option but to mobilise all the social sectors and take all the necessary political actions to stop this blow and burden,” Raila said.
“Let them not say they have not be warned, let them take this as final warning from Azimio on the issue.”
Instead of coming up with more tax measures, the Azimio leader demands the Kenya Kwanza administration to seal the leakages in government that leads to wastage of taxpayers’ money.
“Kenya Kwanza must address the economy’s many structural shortcomings. For instance, there is a reason why the Kenya Revenue Authority is unable to meet its revenue targets. Kenya Kwanza must figure out and address the problem,” he said.
Raila who was speaking at his Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices blasted Ruto’s administration for skewed hiring in the public sector.
“Kenya Kwanza must incorporate all productive citizens into its nation-building projects. Currently, the regime has alienated a huge section of the population who see themselves as outsiders and strangers in their own country."
Parliament is currently receiving public views on the Bill, even as a number of President William Ruto allies maintain it will be passed as it is.
South Mugirango MP and National Assembly Majority Whip Sylvanus Osoro and Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei have separately said the House will pass the Finance Bill 2023 without changing anything in it.
Currently, the government side boasts of a few seats shy of having a super majority in the bicameral House – numbers that are critical in bulldozing such bills.
After President Ruto's twin raid at his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio leader Raila Odinga's camps, Kenya Kwanza just needs 15 MPs to get the magical two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
Before the raid, the Ruto side had 179 out of the 349 members in the National Assembly and 36 members in the 67-member Senate.
But that has since changed with 218 MPs in the National Assembly, including UDA-leaning independents, pledging allegiance to Kenya Kwanza.