Opposition leader Raila Odinga now wants President William Ruto to withdraw the Finance Bill 2023 and apologise to Kenyans for the anxiety they have suffered over the tax proposals.
Raila said the Kenya Kwanza administration has ran out of explanations for the proposals in the Bill and has resorted to threats maintaining Azimio MPs will vote against it.
The former Prime Minister, who spoke during Azimio leadership consultative forum on the Finance Bill 2023 in Nairobi yesterday, warned that should Ruto have his way in the National Assembly they will regroup and overrun him in the assembly of the people.
“In the history of budget making in Kenya, no regime has imposed so many and so high taxes on our people in return for nothing but fantasies and fairy tales. This Bill is a disease that cannot be cured with everyday herbs. This Bill is economic sabotage, If Ruto insists on this Bill, this country will go into full recession, this Bill requires and must get fierce resistance,” said Raila.
He said no prudent leader withdraws subsidies on basic goods, then increases taxes on the same goods and without raising salaries of working people.
Raila accused the government of planning to levy taxes on chamas (merry-go-rounds) that are the bankers and lenders of last resort for mothers and youth particularly in rural areas and slums.
He said by imposing these taxes Ruto will strike at the heart of women’s economy, killing savings and worsening poverty of an already vulnerable group.
The Azimio leader said that at a time the National Hospital Insurance Fund and the National Social Security Fund are failing, the President is telling Kenyans to forgo 3 per cent of their salaries and deposit it into “some fantasy called housing levy where nobody knows where it is housed.”
The government cannot agree whether it is a tax or an investment, nobody knows how it became an investment advisor to Kenyans. They ignore concerns by employers and employees that many payslips are already overwhelmed by deductions, loans and lack of pay rise and they ignore concerns that this tax will increase business operating costs and force firms to relocate.
He noted that the government wants to raise turnover tax for businesses from the current 1 per cent to 3 per cent targeting small businesses by reducing the turnover of taxable businesses from Sh1 million to Sh500,000. This means that any small business that sells goods and services worth Sh1,370 daily will pay a turnover tax of Sh15,000 per year, regardless of whether they make a profit or not.
Raila said Ruto promised to respect every job and its contribution to the economy but the Finance Bill proposals are a disconnect from the expected reality. He noted that hard-working youth seeking to eke a living as content creators and social media influencers will be the hardest hit by the 5 per cent withholding tax.
The opposition leader said the government wants to impose a 316 per cent tax hike on beauty products such as wigs, false beards, eyelashes, human hair and artificial nails, among others bearing in mind that the beauty industry is a major employer particularly of women.
“Millions of young men and women eke a living out of salons, spas and barber shops, those businesses face closure, others will have to sack employees, Ruto and Kenya Kwanza are behaving as if cost of living is no longer a crisis in this country, despite existing high prices, Ruto wants to impose 16 per cent VAT on maize flour, cassava flour and wheat flour,” he said. Raila noted that the Bill seeks to impose VAT on agricultural pest control products, transportation of sugarcane, raw materials for fertiliser manufacturing and fertilisers that will push up their cost.
The former Prime Minister faulted government plans to double the VAT on fuel from 8 per cent to 16 per cent, which means pump prices will increase by Sh9 per litre of diesel and Sh10 per litre of petrol which will further raise the cost of living.
He said healthcare costs have impoverished millions but Ruto wants to expose pharmaceuticals and medicaments to taxation by removing them from zero rated to tax-exempt list.
Cost of fuel
“After raising the cost of fuel, they want to raise advance tax on motor vehicles, advance tax on passenger vehicles will increase from the current Sh2,400 to at least Sh5,000 and from Sh3,000 to at least Sh5,000 for commercial vehicles, trucks will now pay at least Sh60,000 annually up from Sh20,000. Obviously, the cost will be passed to the consumer, making matatu and taxi transportation more unaffordable,” said Raila.
The former Prime Minister noted that the President wants to treat insurance compensation as income and introduce a 16 per cent VAT meaning insurance compensation incase of an accident will no-longer be seen as compensation of what was lost.
Raila said that looking at the proposals, one cannot help asking what planet does Ruto live on or whether he understands what Kenyans are going through. He accused Kenya Kwanza of lying that they inherited a broke country while the truth is the cash crunch has been caused by economic mismanagement, wasteful spending, corruption and hiring of incompetent personnel. The Azimio leader claimed that the worsening economic situation has been manufactured in State House and the Office of the President in the last eight or so months.
He said contrary to what Ruto promised and what he is saying, borrowing has gone up instead of coming down, but strangely the cash crunch continues.
“In September 2022 when former President Uhuru Kenyatta officially handed over to Ruto, Kenya’s total debt was Sh8.701 trillion of this Sh4.33 trillion was external debt while Sh4.366 was domestic debt while at March 2023, that is in six months after Ruto took over, Kenya’s debt rose from Sh8.701 trillion to Sh9.390 trillion with debt rising by Sh689 billion under Ruto,” said Raila.
The former Prime Minster noted that the external debt that stood at Sh4.33 trillion in September 2022, rose to Sh4.851 trillion in March 2023 with domestic debt rising from Sh4.366 trillion in September 2022 to Sh4.539 in March 2023.
He said between September 2021 and March 2022 the debt rose by Sh405 billion from Sh7.96 trillion to Sh8.401 trillion with the external debt being Sh4.209 trillion while domestic debt stood at Sh4.192 trillion.
Raila claimed current government has borrowed more than any other regime.
“They have removed subsidies, raised taxes but the cash crunch has continued, they cannot pay salaries, they cannot disburse money to schools, they cannot disburse money to counties, they cannot disburse money to the elderly, they cannot finance the NHIF and nearly all major infrastructure projects have stalled,” he said.
He said Ruto is trying to change the country’s debt ceiling from the current absolute number of Sh10 trillion to a moving number of 55 per cent of GDP while the debt level is already 60 per cent of GDP and to beat that violation of the law, he (President) wants to force an amendment to the Public Finance Act to allow the National Treasury and not Parliament to set new debt ceiling.
“As the Bill heads to the National Assembly, Ruto must be reminded that excessive taxation is stifling growth, that when people have to park cars at home because of cost of fuel, it is bad for the economy, that when Kenyans postpone travelling up-country because they can’t afford fuel or fare, it is bad for the economy,” said Raila.
Present during the meeting were Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua, Usawa’s Mwangi wa Iria, ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, Roots’ George Wajackoya and Jubilee’s Jeremiah Kioni.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi,ODM National Chairman John Mbadi, Azimio La Umoja Economic Council Chairman Nderitu Mureithi, former Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu and Kibra MP Peter Orero were also present. By Edwin Nyarangi, The Standard
The Government of South Sudan and UN Women on Thursday launched a 2 million dollar project to strengthen women’s participation in politics and leadership in the country.
The three-year project (2023-25) to be implemented by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aims to tackle structural barriers hindering women's participation, inclusion, and advocacy efforts.
The fund launched under the theme “Women’s Leadership and Political Participation during South Sudan’s Transitional Period” is funded by Norway, Sweden, and Netherlands and will target women and young women at the margins of decision-making, political leadership, and participation and building social cohesion and peace.
Speaking during the launch in Juba, National Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mary Nawai said there cannot be any sustainable peace, security, or development without the effective participation of women.
“The participation of women in politics is a fundamental right of everyone, especially young women,” she asserted. “The participation of women in politics is the process of identifying and understanding the challenges women face in our country. It allows you to raise your voice and look for solutions to address these challenges.”
For his part, Peterson Magoola, the UN Women's Country Representative in South Sudan, said the project will provide women with more space in politics.
“We know that as we conclude these processes to go towards elections, it is timely that women are prepared to take steps in upcoming elections and this is the time when women should be empowered and when they should be exposed to knowledge and strategies through which they can lay a foundation for their participation in the leadership,” said Magoola.
Titus Osundina, UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative in South Sudan, reaffirmed the UN's commitment to promoting gender equality in the country.
“That UNDP remains committed to the partnership to promote gender equality and women empowerment and reducing vulnerability and strengthen gender issues in the country,” he said. - Radio Tamazuj
UNEF Indian Troops on Patrol: Private Kahan Singh, an Indian soldier serving with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in one of the three companies of the First Parachute Battalion (PUNJAB) which are stationed along the Demarcation Line. After six hours of duty at the Observation Post on the Line, Pte Kahan Singh (in front) is seen here returning to his camp.
The United Nations observed the 75th anniversary of its peacekeeping missions last Thursday. During a ceremony to pay tribute to the more than 4,000 peacekeepers who have died on duty, Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, requested hundreds of military officers and diplomats in uniform to observe a moment of silence in their honour. He then awarded medals to ambassadors from the 39 home countries of the 103 peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2022.
The first military observers were sent by the UN Security Council to oversee the Israeli-Arab Armistice Agreement in May 1948. Indian troops and experts have played a significant role in the UN’s peacekeeping missions. Data show that since the inception of UN peacekeeping missions, most of the lives lost during peacekeeping missions due to malicious acts were of Indian troops. By VIGNESH RADHAKRISHNAN, TH
The 3U Cubesat Satellite will be launched 400 kilometres into the air to collect data for research on numerous topics such as climate change and wildlife movement
Dar es Salaam. Students at St. Joseph University of Tanzania (SJUIT) are working on an ambitious project to build a satellite in order to increase data collecting for study on topics such as climate change and wildlife movement.
The $250,000 project was created by three second-year students seeking Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Engineering.
According to SJUIT Vice Chancellor Prof Eliab Opiyo, Steven Makunga, David Seng’enge, and Doris Ndaki were carefully overseen by their lecturer, Dr Amani Bura.
“So far, actual development of the satellite has reached 50 percent, and we anticipate that it will be sent into space by the end of this year or early next year (2024) to offer information on a variety of topics,” Prof Opiyo told journalists yesterday.
The 3U Cubesat Satellite will be launched 400 kilometres into the air to collect data for research on numerous topics such as climate change and wildlife movement.
According to Prof Opiyo, the actual design of the satellite began two years ago, and they are currently creating a prototype of the satellite and testing it.
“Upon being launched, it will help us collect various information to boost the work of institutions and researchers,” he said.
The SJUIT, in partnership with its Department of Innovation and Techno-Preneurship Acceleration Facility (ITAF), is financing the project through the purchase of equipment, but negotiations are still being conducted to involve researchers and other interested parties.
“The talks are for the purpose of engaging researchers from foreign colleges and research institutions so they can help with their expertise and more technical training. They can also help us in the actual service of putting the satellite into space,” said Prof Opiyo.
Having reached 50 percent of its design, the satellite can now collect information, according to one of the students involved in the project, Mr Steven Makunga.
He said that the instrument would help in obtaining weather information and communication in areas that have not yet been reached.
By collecting weather information, the equipment will thus be helpful in providing agricultural information to farmers about the crops to be planted and the development of their crops in general.
“It can also be helpful in the education sector through the dissemination of content in rural areas where there is no internet infrastructure or telephone services. It can also facilitate communication in the health sector,” said Mr Makunga.
He said it can also be of help when major disasters like fire and floods occur by providing emergency information to people going to evacuation sites. By Gadiosa Lamtey, Citizen
Manufacturers and traders risk a Sh1 million fine or a jail term of three years from this month if they fail to install and only use upgraded electronic tax registers (ETRs) at their premises.
The taxman on Tuesday warned it had started the crackdown on non-compliant traders.
Under the new system, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will receive sales and invoice data from all registered firms and traders daily in a fresh push to boost revenue collection and curb tax evasion.
“KRA would like to remind the public that effective June 1, 2023 all VAT registered taxpayers are required to only accept electronic tax invoices from registered taxpayers...for purposes of claiming input tax and processing of VAT refunds,” said the taxman.
“Enforcement measures shall be instituted against VAT registered taxpayers who will not comply by June 1 2023.”
The new system grants the taxman real-time access to invoices. It also means businesses will not use suppliers who do not have a Tax Invoice Management System (TIMS) machine.
“Input VAT can only be claimed if supported by a TIMS invoice,” said Nikhil Hira, a tax expert and business partner at Kody Africa LLP.
“For income tax purposes, deduction will not be permitted without a TIMS invoice.”
The move comes as the taxman moves to seal revenue leaks and boost State coffers as part of the efforts to reduce reliance on public debt.
Traders will also be required to seek the taxman’s permission to perform any other business the next day under the system, meaning incorrect or incomplete data logged the previous day could lock them out.
Businesses have been digging deeper into their pockets to bear the cost of procuring the new registers. Besides the upgraded ETR software, traders are supposed to procure software for the devices.
The ETR retails at between Sh45,000 to Sh120,000, while the billing software is about Sh80,000.
Suppliers have been recording booming business amid the scramble by firms to comply. The new ETR will upgrade the current manual tax registers that store sales data for scrutiny by KRA after 30 days.
“The system seeks to enhance compliance. With the existing situation where we have most of the processes being manual, we don’t have visibility of vatable transactions,” Hakamba Wangwe, the KRA chief manager in charge of TIMS operations, said earlier.
The new ETRs will be connected through the Internet to KRA’s systems, allowing the taxman to monitor all transactions in the traders’ point of sale and invoicing systems. - Brian Ngugi, The Standard
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