Billionaire businessman Narendra Raval joins case to defend Ruto's Finance Act

He was enjoined as an interested party in an appeal case seeking suspension of the Act.

In Summary

• Busia senator Okiya Omtatah with Eliud Matindi, Benson Otieno and Brian Oigoro moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the suspension of the freeze order on the Act.

• Raval said he has a personal interest in the case and should the matter proceed without him being enjoined, he stands to suffer irreparable prejudice and damage.

Devki Group of Companies CEO Narendra Raval.
Devki Group of Companies CEO Narendra Raval.
Image: FILE

Billionaire businessman Narendra Raval has been enjoined as an interested party in the pending appeal case against the Finance Act, 2023.

It followed the filing of a certificate of urgency at the Milimani High Court in which he backed the implementation of the Act as a benefactor. 

He told the court that as a local steel manufacturer, he has a personal interest in the case and would have suffered irreparable prejudice and damage were the case to proceed without him being enjoined as an interested party.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli and Lawrence Mugambi granted the prayers on Monday.

Lady Justice Njoki Ndung'u on Tuesday referred the appeal case to Chief Justice Martha Koome for empanelment of a bench to hear the matter.

The Finance Act had been suspended by Lady Justice Mugure Thande on June 30 who further extended the orders on July 10 but the Court of Appeal lifted the suspension on July 28.

Busia senator Okiya Omtatah together with Eliud Matindi, Benson Otieno and Brian Oigoro have challenged the decision saying they are dissatisfied with the ruling by Justices Mohammed Warsame, Kathurima M’Inoti and Hellen Omondi.

The lifting of the suspension order followed an application by Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u in which he argued that the government was losing half-a billion shillings daily, following the freeze.

"The upshot of our decision is that the application has merit and the same is allowed as prayed with the effect that the order made on July 10, 2023, suspending the Finance Act 2023, and the order prohibiting the implementation of the Finance Act 2023, be and is hereby lifted pending the hearing and determination of the appeal," the judges ruled. 

But the petitioners have contested the passage of Finance Bill, 2023 saying 22 sections of the resultant Act "were not in the Bill but were introduced on the floor of the National Assembly".

Omtatah and fellow petitioners want the apex court to issue fresh orders suspending the Finance Act, 2023 citing contravention of the Constitution.

Raval was enjoined in the case following the filing of his certificate of urgency through lawyer James Makori.

He said he would act as an interested party in his capacity as chief executive officer of Devki Steel Mills.

He told the court that the Finance Act, of 2023 contains several tax policy measures that are beneficial to his firm which largely specialises in the manufacture of steel products.

He said section 70 of the Finance Act in particular provides for the payment of export and promotion levy on all imported goods for home use which funds will among other things boost manufacturing, increase exports, create jobs and promote investments.

"In this case, the applicant, which is a local manufacturing company, is set to benefit from the Finance Act, 2023 as the Act has conferred upon the local manufacturers incentives to manufacture goods locally."

In supporting the implementation of the Act, the businessman argued that the importation of cheap and low-quality steel products has turned Kenya into a dumping ground, made manufacturing unsustainable and cost the country Sh800 million annually.

He further argued that if the Finance Act is implemented, his company will be able to provide jobs to more than 10,000 Kenyans and help reverse the plight of more than 200,000 youths who have lost jobs due to the closure of steel companies caused by cheap steel imports.

"We can then manufacture steel billets, clinkers and wire rods locally and boost our economy. Our group of companies has invested over Sh50 billion in steel and another Sh80 billion in the cement industry and we have the capacity to produce enough to avoid imports," Raval said.

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