Nairobi — President William Ruto did not waste the opportunity to pitch for the 3 percent Housing Fund levy at National Prayer Breakfast, saying those opposed to it are selfish.
President Ruto insists that the Housing Fund Kitty is aimed at helping millions of jobless hustlers in the country, and wants a sober debate on the proposal contained in the Finance Bill 2023.
“If we feel the pain of the 3 percent then it’s because we are alive but if we feel the pain of the 7 million Kenyans who live in the slums then we are human beings,” he said even as the Finance Committee retreated to finalize the Bill to be tabled in Parliament next week ahead of Budget reading.
The president said bold decisions must be made for Kenya to move forward.
The President insisted that his administration will focus on ensuring the country lives within its means by reducing debt borrowing and revamping tax collection to raise revenue for his Sh 3.6 trillion budget for the next financial year.
“It’s time to be bold and brave. Delayed tactics and failure are written in the shaky handwriting of cowards. Excuses are the nails used to construct the coffins of failure,” Ruto said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.
The Head of State expressed hope that the proposed taxes by his administration will ultimately transform the country.
“This moment demands singular courage. Our commitment is under test, only bold decisions will enable us make the best of these opportunities to unlock the possibility of the Kenya we all want,” the President said.
President Ruto while urging Kenyans to fasten their belts once the Finance Bill passes invoked Daniel 11:32 bible scripture that ‘those who know their God they shall be strong and they shall do exploits’.
“Living within our means requires us to work with what we have. Remember Moses when he was confronted with situations, God asked him what do you have in your hands. We all know what he hand in his hands,” he said.
The National Assembly Finance Committee led by Molo MP Kimani Kuria has retreated to write a report on the bill after receiving over 1000 submissions from various stakeholders during public participation.
The Finance Committee is set to table the report before the house on Tuesday next week ahead of the budget reading set for Thursday next week.
Among the contentious proposals in the Bill include a contribution to the National Housing Development Fund where employees are expected to remit 3 percent of their salary to the fund.
If the Bill becomes an Act, taxpayers may have to contend with an increase in the VAT of petroleum from 8.0 percent to 16 percent, which will potentially increase the price of fuel.
The Bill proposes to increase excise duty on money transfer services by cellular phone service providers from 12 percent to 15 percent, meaning an increase in your M-Pesa or Airtel Money charges.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga has threatened to organize mass protests against the proposed high taxes on fuel and other commodities.
Raila says that Kenyans are already burdened with a high cost of living and cannot afford additional taxes.
Specifically, he opposes the proposed 16 percent Value Added Tax on fuel and the housing fund introduced by the Kenya Kwanza government.
Odinga stated that if the proposed taxes outlined in the Finance Bill are passed in Parliament, he will mobilize Kenyans to take to the streets.
“Finally, we make it clear that if this Bill is railroaded through Parliament, Kenya Kwanza must prepare that we will have no option but to mobilize citizens around the country to fight for themselves,” Odinga told a news conference Tuesday.
Odinga criticized the Kenya Kwanza leadership for boasting that the Bill must pass in the National Assembly.
He questioned why the top leadership of the Kenya Kwanza regime in both Parliament and the Executive had already taken a stance on the matter, despite the Bill not yet undergoing public participation.