Nairobi — Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition will next week Tuesday hold a rally at the Kamukunji grounds to announce next course of action after passage of Finance Bill 2023 by the Members of the National Assembly.
The move comes even as Kenyans continue to raise concerns over the increased cost of living across the country.
“As Azimio Coalition, We have decided to invite Kenyans to a consultation at the Kamukunji Grounds next Tuesday, 27th June at 10 am where the next course of action will be decided,” Azimio said Thursday.
During the voting last week, Azimio Members of Parliament put up a spirited fight to defeat the Finance Bill 2023 but they were technically knocked out after they failed to marshal enough numbers to thwart the bill in its entirety.
During the second reading stage of the bill, 257 Members of Parliament who took part in the voting, 176 MPs voted in favor while 81 opposed the report.
No lawmaker abstained from the voting.
Having sailed through the second reading stage, it will now proceed to the committee of the whole house where it will be subjected to amendments.
At this stage, the MPs will vote for the bill clause by clause on whether they will adopt the amendments or pass the clauses as proposed by the Finance Bill report.
Once it passes this stage, it bill will proceed to the Third reading which is the final voting.
If the National Assembly approves it,it will be forwarded to President William Ruto for assent.
Members of Parliament were drawn on opposing sides on the first day of the debate over the report on the Finance Bill 2023 despite changes made on contentious clauses in the proposed bill.
Finance Committee Chair Kimani Kuria who tabled the bill last evening kickstarted the debate by defending proposed changes and retained provisions in the bill.
The committee vice chair Benjamin Langat defended the bill saying the proposal in the bill will ultimately enable the country to deal with the debt crisis and ensure development in the country.
“This Bill is good because it proposes radical changes to help us to resolve the problems that we’re in. The question is, is the process nice? It may not be nice. But we need to take those decisions so that tomorrow is better than today,”
Leaders from the Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio La Umoja Coalition disagreed on the floor of the house on contentious provisions in the bill which include the increased tax on the VAT on petroleum products from 8 percent to 16 percent and the housing levy.
Deputy Minority Whip Robert Mbui vehemently opposed the bill decrying that the majority of Kenyans have opposed the bill by the whims of Executive on Parliament will ensure the bill sails through.
“We’re being controlled like puppets by the Executive. The Executive stands and says they’re going to watch how we vote. Members of this House must ensure that the independence and the power of this House must be respected,” Mbui stated.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo cautioned his Kenya Kwanza counterparts against remaining bullish that the revised Finance Bill will pass given their numbers saying they will move to court and go further to stage demonstrations to oppose the bill.
“You cannot have a situation where you’re bringing the housing tax here. I want to invite you to note that first of all, under Schedule 6, the role of housing is for the counties, it’s not for the national government,”
“You must listen to us because even if you use the majority to pass this, there’s still the courts. And even if you deal with the courts, there are still the people who are sovereign,” he added.
Suna West MP Peter Masara noted that even though the finance bill is aimed at funding the budget the tax provision will make life untenable for Kenyans.
“If you read today’s nation, it is talking about the number of billionaires who have left the country because of high taxes. If we pass this Bill in entirety the way it is, so many investors and manufacturers are going to leave this country and produce elsewhere,” said Masara.
Kaloleni MP Paul Katana raised issues with the provision on an increase of the VAT on petroleum products saying it moves away from the pledge by the government to reduce the high cost of living.
“The 16 percent VAT will lead to a skyrocket of prices and the one who will be pained a lot is the mama mboga and the bodaboda guys who the bill aims to cushion. There is no difference between us and them. If the prices of fuel soar, the President, his deputy, and mama mboga will buy it at the same price,” Katana said.
Teso North MP Mary Emase scoffed at the remarks by the Azimio Coalition counterparts that the bill should be withdrawn in its entirety and a new bill that is friendly to the common mwananchi be proposed.
“We must make a decision, it’s a hard decision but we must make it as a country. I believe in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance manifesto and this bill will ensure its implementation,” said Emase.