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Raila says Finance Bill 2024 will severely hurt already overburdened Kenyans

The Former Prime Minister says the new tax proposals in the Bill will make an already bad situation worse.

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Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga has expressed his vehement opposition to Finance Bill 2024. The Opposition chief termed the Bill a regressive taxation proposal that goes ruthlessly after the poor.

Should it be ratified, Raila warns that low-income citizens will be hit with taxes on multiple fronts and will end up paying more than people with higher incomes. He insists that taxes on basic necessities such as food, cooking oil, and money transfers will disproportionately hurt the poorest of the poor.

“The Finance Bill 2024 fails the taxation dictums of 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,” added Raila

In Raila’s view, the country’s economy might suffer major breakdown given the proposals contained in the Bill.

“The tax proposals for 2024 will make an already bad situation worse. They could usher the collapse of an economy that is already severely suffocated, and the poor will be the hardest hit,” he warned

In a statement to newsrooms Friday evening, the Former Prime Minister further described most of the tax proposals in the Finance Bill 2024 as insensitive as they are callous.

“We see no positive result that the country which is a net importer of nearly everything can derive from the proposal to raise Import Declaration Fees from 2 percent to 3 percent. The impact is that the cost of goods will go up,” he charged

Raila argued that the tax measures put in place last year (Finance Act 2023) have subjected Kenyans to a great deal of trauma but bore no fruit. He says the intended purpose of the 2023 tax measures was to help the government raise more revenue but, instead, the Kenya Revenue Authority has consistently failed to meet targets.

“The high taxes on petroleum products occasioned a fall on the fuel levy raised. They led to closure and relocation of businesses,” he said

Odinga insists that if the government expects businesses to invest in Kenya, then it cannot afford a tax policy that “keeps swinging like a pendulum.” He says Kenya cannot afford taxation measures whose result is to inflict more pain on the poor who expect relief.

“Parliament must inject very radical surgery on the outrageous proposals in the Finance Bill 2024. We will not accept the mistakes and pains inflicted on Kenyans by the Finance Act 2023 to be continued into 2025 through Finance Bill 2024,” he said

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