Finance Bill: Showdown looms as Kenyans plan to occupy Parliament

“Reject Finance Bill 2024. Carry placard, handkerchief and bottle of water,” a poster reads.

In Summary
  • A recent survey conducted by Infotrak indicated that an overwhelming 87 per cent of Kenyans are opposed to the revenue mobilisation measures proposed in the Bill.
  • National Assembly’s Finance Committee retreated on Wednesday to write a report on the Bill ahead of its tabling in the Parliament Tuesday next week.  
Members of the civil society demonstrate outside parliament over the finance bill on June 6, 2024.
Members of the civil society demonstrate outside parliament over the finance bill on June 6, 2024.
Image: FILE

As MPs prepare to debate and vote on the contentious Finance Bill, 2024 on Tuesday, so are Kenyans gearing up to stage a sit-in at Parliament buildings to oppose passage of the proposed new taxes.

A recent survey conducted by Infotrak indicated that an overwhelming 87 per cent of Kenyans are opposed to the revenue mobilisation measures proposed in the Bill.

The disgruntled Kenyans are now mobilising themselves on social media under the hashtag 'Reject Finance Bill' to raise awareness and marshal sufficient support to ensure they show up in their numbers to occupy Parliament on D-day.

“Citizens, rise against overtaxation. Reject Finance Bill 2024,” reads a poster circulating on X.

Upon conclusion of public hearings on the proposed taxes on Tuesday, the National Assembly’s Finance Committee retreated on Wednesday to write a report on the Bill ahead of its expected tabling in Parliament Tuesday next week.  

Bust as the Molo MP Kuria Kimani-led team compiles its report, organizers of the occupy Parliament campaign are rallying support to ensure their voices are heard as the MPs will be debating and voting on the Bill.

Aware that police will be deployed to disperse the gathering, they have advised those who will answer their call and show up to come prepared for the worst.

“Carry placard, handkerchief and bottle of water,” the poster reads.

Protesters often arm themselves with bottles of water and handkerchiefs in anticipation should teargas be lobbed at them.

Rinsing eyes with plain water is known to wash off the burning sensation of chemicals contained in teargas.

The organizers of the peaceful protest say people should start gathering from 12pm.

Dress code: Black.

“We shall gather to keep vigil as members of Parliament vote at 2.30pm. IG Koome to provide police to protect us as he respects Article 37 of the Constitution: The right to protest and picket,” they said.

While unveiling the Sh3.92 trillion 2024-25 Budget estimates in Parliament on Thursday, Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u outlined a number of tax measures government wants to pursue to raise Sh2.92 trillion locally.

Whereas the government made minor adjustments and did away with some tax proposals like the 16 VAT on bread, Kenyans are adamant.

They want all proposed taxes done away with entirely.

They petitioned Members of Parliament on social media asking them to shoot down the Bill once it’s tabled on the floor of the House.

"We sent you to the Parliament to represent our interests. We don't want this punitive Bill. Kindly vote against it when it is presented," a user who identifies as Timothy Kioko sent a message to his Embakasi East MP, James Mawathe.

The Opposition ODM has on its part marshaled its troops in the House and directed MPs to cancel all engagements that will require them to travel outside Nairobi on the day of debate.

In a letter to all MPs, secretary general Edwin Sifuna said the party’s Central Committee directed him to write to the lawmakers to ask them to be in the House during tabling and voting on the Finance Bill.

“You are further requested to suspend any other engagements that would otherwise see you out of Nairobi during this critical period,” the letter reads in part.

Sifuna said any MP who will have compelling reasons to be out of the country during the period is required to inform the party in advance.

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