‘Stop crying to Kenyans that proposed 2024 finance law is unjust, change it in parliament’ – Wetang’ula tells MPs

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 10:37 | By
National Assembly Speaker, Moses Wetangula at a past function. PHOTO/@HonWetangula/X
National Assembly Speaker, Moses Wetangula at a past function. PHOTO/@HonWetangula/X

National Assembly Speaker, Moses Wetangula has criticized Members of Parliament (MPs) who oppose the Finance Bill 2024, accusing them of misleading the public.

Speaking at a gathering, Wetangula called on MPs to prioritize their duties in shaping the budget for the nation.

He urged MPs to refrain from discrediting legislation that they are responsible for.

He noted the MPs are responsible for crafting and passing the budget through parliamentary committees.

"I urge our MPs, I have given you a one-month break, now it's time for the budget. You are the ones who formulate it in committees, you are the ones who pass it in parliament. Please spare the public the agony of coming to cry to citizens that the Finance Bill is bad, the budget is bad when you are the ones passing it. Sit in parliament with your colleagues, and do the right thing for the people of Kenya. Citizens are counting on you because they elected you," Wetang'ula stated.

Babu speaks

Embakasi East Member of Parliament Babu Owino is one of the leaders who have come out to oppose the contentious Finance Bill terming it as unjust.

Babu noted the burdensome nature of the tax increments in the Finance Bill 2024, which contribute to the already high cost of living for Kenyans.

He explained that such increases only serve to escalate expenses without a corresponding rise in the income of ordinary citizens.

"When it comes to the Finance Bill, you know very well that Kenyans are suffering because of the high cost of living and every year the increment of the taxes leads to an increment in expenditure without an increment in income in the pockets of common mwananchi. Right now the Kenya Kwanza government is introducing a tax on bread. We know the French Revolution, it was caused because of economic inequality and social injustice. When common mwananchi were demonstrating demanding that the cost of bread be lowered in France during the reign of King Louis XVI. The people said you must lower the cost of bread, the wife to the king, Marie Antonette came out boldly and said ' If you guys can't afford bread, eat cake' That is what Ruto is telling us, that if we can't afford bread, we eat cake. " Babu stated.

Babu noted that the only way to change the country is for mass demonstrations and refusing to negotiate with the government.

"His Excellency Kalonzo said, this nation can only be changed if there are demonstrations, no negotiations."

Senator Sifuna, Omtatah's sentiments

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna recently called upon Kenyans to ramp up pressure on their Members of Parliament during the forthcoming deliberations on the Finance Bill 2024.

Expressing his optimism regarding the actions of his fellow senators in addressing the Division of Revenue Bill, Sifuna noted the effectiveness of public engagement in influencing elected representatives.

"I was extremely encouraged by the way my colleagues from the Senate majority side dealt with the Division of Revenue Bill this time round. It demonstrates that public pressure works in pushing elected representatives to do the right thing," Sifuna stated on his X account.

He highlighted concerns about the Finance Bill 2024, asserting that the administration of President William Ruto appears to be devising methods to further burden Kenyan citizens.

Sifuna expressed confidence in his own Member of Parliament, Tim Wanyonyi, and urged citizens to similarly interact with their MPs on the issue.

"I'm saying you must make life extremely unbearable for your MP now that we are in Budget Season. Ruto’s Finance Bill 2024 is significantly worse than the last one. He truly has depth, range, and creativity when it comes to ways of hurting Kenyans. So call your MP. I know Tim Wanyonyi will reject this bill. What about yours?" he added.

Meanwhile, Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah echoed Sifuna's sentiments, urging active citizen participation in discussions surrounding the Finance Bill 2024.

Finance Bill 2024

Recently, the National Assembly Committee on Finance called upon Kenyan citizens to share their perspectives on a newly introduced bill.

This bill, unveiled on May 9, 2024, was formally presented to parliament on May 13, 2024, by Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u.

The proposed legislation encompasses alterations to various tax laws, including the Income Tax Act, VAT regulations, Exercise Duty policies, and amendments to the Affordable Housing Act.

One notable provision within the Finance Bill 2024 is the proposal to increase excise duty rates on fees associated with money transfer services offered by banks, money transfer agencies, and other financial entities.

Additionally, the bill suggests implementing a 16 per cent VAT on previously zero-rated items like ordinary bread, which could lead to increased consumer costs.

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