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Raila weighs in on Finance Bill 2024, demands radical changes

The tax burden in Kenya is at its highest level since independence, but public services have largely remained on their knees - Raila Odinga

Former PM Raila Odinga during a joint press conference on June 5, 2024

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has weighed in on The Finance Bill 2024, denouncing the proposed taxes.

The Former Prime Minister called for drastic changes to the bill, noting that Kenyans are already bearing an intolerable tax burden.

He noted that despite the intolerable tax burden, public services remain on its knees.

Consequently, Odinga questioned the use of taxes as the same has failed to translate into services for Kenyans.

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“The tax burden in Kenya is at its highest level since independence, but public services have largely remained on their knees. As if this is not bad enough, the Finance Bill 2024 proposes even more and higher taxes. Consequently, the people and the country will be way worse off at this time in 2025 if the Finance Bill 2024 does not undergo radical surgery,” Odinga asserted.

He also noted that the bill was lacking in key elements that define taxation such as predictability, simplicity, transparency, equity, administrative ease, and fairness.

“It is worse than the one of 2023, an investment killer and a huge millstone around the necks of millions of poor Kenyans who must have hoped that the tears they shed over taxes last year would see the government lessen the tax burden in 2024,” Odinga explained on Friday, June 7.

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He challenged President Ruto’s administration to revise the bill which he termed “regressive taxation proposal that goes ruthlessly after the poor.”

“The Bill is a regressive taxation proposal that goes ruthlessly after the poor. Should it be ratified, low-income people will be hit with taxes on multiple fronts and will end up paying more than people with higher incomes. It is obvious that tax on basic necessities such as food, cooking oil and money transfer disproportionately hurt the poorest of the poor,” the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader noted.

According to Odinga, the bill will pass on a disproportionate burden on the poor as well as employed Kenyans who are struggling to survive.

“In the Finance Bill 2024, insurance and reinsurance services are being removed from tax exempt status, to be subjected to 16 per cent tax. It affects every kind of insurance, from life to property to health to education. That could kill the already struggling insurance industry. The tax will kill an industry that is barely alive,” he stated.

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