Kenya: Omtatah Files Urgent Bid to Stop Parliament From Considering Finance Bill

Nairobi Kenya — Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah has filed a petition at Milimani Law Courts seeking orders to refrain the National Assembly from considering the Finance Bill 2024.

In the court papers filed on Wednesday, Omtatah seeks orders to suspend the ongoing public participation on the Bill.

Omtatah and Eliud Karanja Matindi, a co-petitioner, termed the presentation of the Bill premature because there is no approved fiscal framework for the Financial Year 2024/2025, which it will implement.

"It is only after Parliament has procedurally enacted the Appropriation Act, 2024, that the Finance Bill, 2024, can lawfully and constitutionally be introduced in the National Assembly and, with public participation, be considered and approved by Parliament, and signed into law by the President as the Finance Act, 2024," read the court papers.

"So, in essence, there is no Finance Bill, 2024, without the fiscal framework contained in the Appropriations Act, 2024."

The petitioners said it is both unlawful and unconstitutional that the Finance Bill 2024 is based on the FY 2024/2025 budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly on April 30.

They said it is only after the F/Y 2024/2025 budget estimates of revenue and expenditure have been considered and enacted in law, with public participation through the Appropriations Act, 2024, that the Finance Bill, 2024, can constitutionally, lawfully, and logically be published and processed into law, to become the Finance Act, 2024.

3-judge bench

The two seek to have the matter referred to Chief Justice Martha Koome to form a bench that will determine the matter which they argue raises substantial questions of law.

"Unless this court intervenes, there is no remedy when the legislative process is complete and the unlawful conduct in the course of the legislative process will by then have achieved its object especially because every statute enjoys the presumption of constitutionality," read the court papers.

Finance Bill 2024 published on May 9, is undergoing public participation proposing a wide array of tax and administrative measures that will affect different tax laws.

Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Economic Planning Njuguna Ndung'u submitted the proposal to Parliament in an ambitious plan to enhance revenue-raising measures.

"The proposed legislation contains proposals relating to revenue-raising measures, including liability to and collection of taxes. The Bill also amends other pieces of legislation relating to fees, levies and management of public funds," he stated.

The proposed law seeks to amend the Income Tax Act (Cap. 470), the Value Added Tax Act (Cap. 476), the Excise Duty Act (Cap. 472), the Tax Procedures Act (Cap. 469B), and the Miscellaneous Fees and Levies Act (Cap. 469C).

The Finance Bill 2024 also seeks to introduce an annual wealth tax payable during motor vehicle insurance cover acquisition.

Set at a minimum of Sh5,000 and a maximum of Sh100,000, the levy will be 2.5 percent of the vehicle's value.

It also proposes 16 percent VAT on bread, which will see the price of the commodity skyrocket. The change could see bread prices, currently VAT zero-rated, go up by at least Sh10.

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