KENYA: ‘Listen to the voices of the people,’ Archbishop Muheria Urges MPs to Reject Finance Bill


NYERI, JUNE 19, 2024 (CISA) – “We are not against taxes. We believe taxes are a good thing to bring and uplift the common Kenyan and to give social welfare. However, it must be in a rational way. Can we rationalise how we approach the taxes? Can we have a program that is within a year, five years, six years, ten years where we want to reach let us not try to achieve everything at a go at the expense of our Kenyans especially the very poor,” stated Most Rev Anthony Muheria of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri.

Addressing Journalists on June 16 at Our Lady of Consolata Cathedral in Nyeri town, the Vice Chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) urged the Kenya Kwanza government to re-evaluate its approach to tax reforms, which he termed as disordered and disconnected from the needs of the people.

“Let’s not mince our words. We are overtaxing our people and this disordered, disconnected, disjointed plan of increasing taxes or looking for new areas of getting taxes have a negative impact on our economy and it is going to seriously injure the ordinary Kenyan,” stated Archbishop Muheria.

“If currently, our students in our school are not receiving capitation. If currently, NHIF cannot pay the bills even of the faith-based hospitals, if there is such a huge debt and so many hospitals have stopped taking the NHIF card, then why the taxes? If currently, we are also having the problems that we want to remove the support of students in universities, which family is going to support two children in university with two hundred thousand shillings a year,” remarked the vocal prelate.

Archbishop Muheria appealed to the lawmakers to vote down the Finance Bill 2024 in its entirety and to listen to the voice of the people and not to be swayed by party affiliations or any other external factors.

“Listen to the voices of the people because the economic situation is very unfavourable… We are strained economically and our legislators should be guided by the conscience and not other influences,” he urged.

On June 18, the National Assembly’s Finance Committee bowed down to pressure from different sectors and dropped several contentious clauses on the Finance Bill, even as Kenyans took to the streets in Nairobi to protest against the proposed laws.

“We need to protect Kenyans from the increased cost of living, and therefore the proposed 16% VAT on bread has been dropped. Again to support reducing the cost of living we are doing something about vegetable oil so that we do not make it expensive for Kenyans. Transfer of mobile services is a key concern to many Kenyans and therefore we have proposed again that we do not have any increase on taxation on mobile phone transfer,” stated Kimani Kuria, the chairperson of the Finance and Planning Committee.

The committee is today, June 19, expected to table its report, with recommendations, in parliament.