, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – A majority of Kenyans has rejected the proposal by the National Treasury to impose VAT on foodstuffs, according to a new opinion poll.
The poll by research firm Ipsos Synovate released on Thursday indicates that 86 percent of the respondents rejected the proposal with a vast majority stating that it will hurt those already suffering from poverty and high costs of living.
The National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich had in his budget speech said that the VAT Bill will be re-tabled in Parliament in a bid to simplify, modernise and reduce cost of compliance.
One of the areas that the VAT Bill touches on is the imposition of 16 percent tax on agricultural inputs and processed foodstuffs such as maize flour, milk and bread.
Economic Secretary Geoffrey Mwau on Wednesday said that the Bill will likely to focus on taxing luxury goods that may not necessarily affect the majority of Kenyans.
Mwau has maintained that there will be consultation among all stakeholders to ensure that the proposed legislation raises the expected Sh10 billion while it considers the welfare of Kenyans.
The proposal is the least favoured at 58 percent followed by tax on rental income proposal at nine percent approval.
“Household goods like cosmetics and toothpaste to cost more was third least favoured at six percent and low cost beer /alcohol to be taxed at fourth place with four percent,” the report noted.
Free maternal health care was the most popular budget proposal with a 23 percent of the respondent in its favour.
“Of these 55 percent were women and 44 percent were men with 65 percent being rural and 35 percent urban dwellers,” the report said.
The report indicates that across Kenya, 75 percent of all maternal deaths occurred during delivery with a 58 percent of all births taking place at home.
Out of Sh10.6 billion allocated to the health sector Sh3.1 billion was allocated to the free maternity care.
“Although the free maternity care is a welcome move, it can only be successfully implemented if there are adequate doctors, other medical staff and beds to meet the potentially high demand,” the report said.
Money allocated for youth business programmes was second most favoured proposal with 12 percent, subsidy for employers to help create more jobs at second place with nine percent and money allocated to purchase of laptops at third place with seven percent.
Kenyans moderately approved the budget in the country as a whole at 49 percent.
Among the regions Central province approved at 54 percent, Rift Valley at 53 percent, Nairobi at 48 percent, Western at 47 percent, Nyanza 46 percent, Coast at 48 percent and Eastern at 44 percent.
The poll was conducted between June 14 and 16 with about 1,500 respondents living in urban and rural areas via the telephone.
Out of this sample 961 respondents had followed the budget readings keenly.