Kenya: DP Ruto Urges Parliament to Expedite Tax Reform Proposals in COVID-19 Response Plan

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) in a show of unity with Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (file photo).

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto Tuesday urged the Houses of Parliament to fast-track the approval of a raft of tax measures proposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the taxation regime due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit the country.

In a message on his Twitter handle, the DP said the Executive had forwarded to Parliament the proposals so that to deal with the health and financial challenges brought by pandemic.

Ruto said the legislature "should urgently consider and approve the same to enable the government undertake necessary interventions to cushion Kenyans especially the vulnerable".

The DP's post a came days after MPs struggled to fight off accusations that they have failed to follow the example of other parliaments which are coming up with measures to cushion people and businesses from adverse economic effects brought about by the virus.

Media reports castigated the 419-member legislature through its key parliamentary committees on Budget, Finance, Trade and Health accusing them of abdicating their mandate, leaving Treasury and the Presidency to craft a rescue package for the country.

Members of the National Assembly are expected to resume their sitting after a month long recess on Tuesday, April 14.

Top of the agenda for the lawmakers will be to consider the stages of the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, containing part of the measures to address the taxation regime including lowering the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.

53 MPs who will be allowed to participate in the Sittings are also scheduled to consider any other legislative measures to cushion the country from the effects of COVID-19.

This include a reduction of reduction of Corporation Tax from 30 to 25 per cent, and reduction of the Turnover Tax Rate from three to one per cent for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Unlike the Value Added Tax Act which reverted to 14 per cent from 16 per cent, these changes require substantive amendments to the laws.

This after President Uhuru Kenyatta also asked the National Assembly to immediately appropriate Sh1 from the Universal Health Coverage kitty "strictly" towards the recruitment of more health workers to support the national response to COVID-19.

The Senate on the other hand will be considering the first status progress report by the Ad-hoc Committee on the COVID-19 Situation in Kenya and Division of the Revenue Bill when it resumes sittings Tuesday afternoon.

The Upper House was forced to cancel a Sitting last week after the Speaker Kenneth Lusaka called it off as a result of a directive announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta banning movement in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Nairobi Senator, Johnson Sakaja who chairs the COVID-19 select team noted that the committee was keen on ensuring that all the provisions needed by the health care providers in the country to fight the disease are well supplied and more importantly how counties can be supported in building their capacity to fight the virus.

He hinted that the proposal will entail an economic stimulus package that will cushion Kenyans during this period especially those who have been hard hit by the economic impact arising from the virus.

The Senators will also consider a motion by Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen who is seeking adjournment of the Sittings until May 5 as provided for in the Senate Calendar.

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