Kenya: Uhuru to Reverse Fuel Cost Rise, Says Raila As Pressure Mounts

Fuel pump.
3 September 2018

ODM leader Raila Odinga has said President Uhuru Kenyatta will sign into law the amendments to the 16 per cent VAT on petroleum products passed by Parliament last week.

The Bill was tabled by Suna East MP Junet Mohamed.

Speaking in Kisumu where he was the chief guest at the National Government Affirmative Action Fund Tournament organised by the office of Kisumu Woman Representative Rozah Buyu on Sunday, Mr Odinga also said he was ready for a lifestyle audit and asked that it be extended to his father and great-grandfather, following a challenge by some Rift Valley MPs to him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"Together with the President, we will not relent in our fight against corruption. Corruption has led to billions of shillings going into people's pockets, plunging the country into debt. Let the lifestyle audits be done, even for our fathers and grandfathers," said Mr Odinga.

He was accompanied by Deputy Kisumu Governor Mathews Owili, Senator Fred Outa, Speaker Onyango Oloo, Woman Representative Rozah Buyu and her Homa Bay Counterpart Gladys Wanga, and Senate Minority Leader James Orengo.

TAX LAW

Also present were MPs Jared Okello (Nyando), James K'Oyoo (Muhoroni), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central) and Aduma Owuor (Nyakach).

The leaders condemned Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich for going against the MPs' decision to defer the implementation of the tax law.

They had passed the amendments to the Finance Bill 2018, which seeks to defer the implementation of the Bill until 2020 to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living, noting that it would hit low-income earners particularly hard.

"In the Constitution of Kenya, it is stated that there is no taxation without representation, and if MPs have passed something, Rotich cannot change it," Mr Orengo said.

He said the CS should not be allowed to burden Kenyans with more taxes.

Mr Odinga also advised the government to go slow on borrowing, saying that is the long-term solution to avoid overtaxing Kenyans.

FUEL TAX

He said the controversial fuel tax is the result of lack of options for filling budget deficits.

The ODM leader, who has many times criticised government borrowing, blamed the huge debts on corruption, saying the country has lost almost Sh700 billion to corrupt individuals.

The government's debt currently stands at Sh5.1 trillion, with China and the World Bank among the biggest external creditors owed more than a trillion shillings combined -- Sh534 billion and Sh587 billion, respectively.

"It is these debts that are now pushing the government into a tight spot to impose such taxes on innocent Kenyans to repay them," said Mr Odinga.

The Nasa manifesto promised to cut debt and introduce spending based on viability, but did not say whether more revenue would be raised through taxation or borrowing.

Mr Odinga also visited the first woman member of Parliament, Mrs Grace Onyango, who is ailing, at her home in the town.

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