By Kamadi Amata
In his latest address, Raila Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja Coalition, has declared his opposition to the proposed Finance Bill 2023, stating that he will rally his troops to prevent it from passing in Parliament. He has referred to the bill as a “promissory note to strangle and suffocate the hustlers from whose necks Ruto promised to remove the rope.”
“We will be instructing our members to pause this Bill’s proposals,” Raila said during a press conference on Monday.
“In the event that Kenya Kwanza uses its hired majority and passes the Bill as it is, we want the people of Kenya to understand that it will be a Kenya Kwanza Bill.”
Raila claims that the proposed Finance Bill will negatively impact small and medium-sized businesses by raising the Turnover Tax to 3%, a move that will tax their gross sales irrespective of whether they make profits or not. Instead, he proposed that the tax remain at 1% for gross sales of Ksh.1 million or more. He also criticized the proposed income tax adjustment, arguing that it would burden Kenyans, who have not received a pay increase in the last five years, and reduce disposable income, affecting all sectors of the economy.
Raila also criticized the proposal for a Housing Fund, which he called “irrational” due to the already high cost of living and reduced income for most employees. He questioned the logic behind the proposed Tax Appeals Tribunal, which would require a deposit of 20% of the disputed amount with the KRA before a case could be heard.
“As Kenya Kwanza reduces the local disposable income, it is inadvertently reducing the demand for local goods and services,” said Raila. “It leads to more unemployment and more desperation.”
Additionally, Raila highlighted proposed VAT payments, increased excise duty on imported cement, and the proposed taxation on beauty products. He accused the government of suffocating innovation by proposing a turnover tax on the monetization of digital content. According to Raila, the proposed 316% increase in wigs, false beards, eyelashes, human hair, and artificial nails will affect youth and women currently employed in the industry.
Raila’s opposition to the proposed Finance Bill 2023 stems from his belief that Kenyans are already overtaxed and that the internal weaknesses of Kenya Kwanza are to blame. His proposals for amendments to the bill reflect his aim to alleviate the tax burden on Kenyans and promote economic growth.
“From paying zero tax currently, a creative youth who creates a digital platform or content will be required to pay 15 per cent tax. As a country, we will be killing innovation and leaving our youth with too few options, if any,” he added.