31 May 2013

Kenyan Lawmakers Threaten Tax Cuts in Retaliation for Pay Increase Block

Members of Kenya's parliament Thursday (May 30th) threatened to drastically cut taxes and slash constitutional commissions' budgets in apparent revenge for attempts to block their proposed salary increases, Kenya's Daily Nation reported.

Four lawmakers said they will sack at least 21 members of constitutional commissions and slash their budgets to "help the president and his government to reduce the public wage bill and free up resources for development". In addition, they will empower themselves to cut the salaries of the president and state officers by 57% and revise the Value Added Tax to "make life bearable for Kenyans".

Members of the commissions met Friday (May 31st) at the Serna Hotel in Nairobi and said their stand on the ongoing issue was supported by the country's constitution.

"Parliament should not use the budget process to arm-twist constitutional commissions," Commission for Implementation of the Constitution chairman Charles Nyachae said.

The proposed cuts to tax revenue threaten to block President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition's efforts to fulfil the ambitious agendas it has set out since taking office.

The threats followed a High Court order Thursday that bars employees of the Parliamentary Service Commission from paying lawmakers more than their tax-free 532,000-shilling ($6,270) monthly salaries, far short of the 851,000 shillings ($10,000) they demand.

Lawmakers said they will also exempt from paying taxes Kenyans making less than 50,000 shillings ($587) monthly, or 5.9% of the salaries lawmakers want for themselves.

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