Pay tax, MPs told by colleagues

November 18, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 18 – Two African Parliamentarians have advised their Kenyan counterparts against shying away from paying taxes.

Ghanaian Minister for Parliamentary Business, Abraham Aidoo and a colleague from the Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday said both their salaries and allowances were taxed and they had no problem with it.

“I cannot imagine Ghanaian MPs wanting to amend the law to suit them. That would be discriminatory and they would not dare lest they face a national rebellion,” Mr Aidoo told Capital News in an interview.

A week ago the Kenyan legislators, who are among the most paid on the continent, coerced Acting Finance Minister John Michuki into dropping a proposal to tax their allowances.

The proposal to tax the law makers was brought about by the former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya when he read the 2008 budget. The proposal had attracted strong views from the MPs and members of the public.

The 222 MPs each earn over Sh800, 000 per month, out of which Sh200, 000 is their basic salary for which they pay taxes. The rest of the money is tax free. They justified their evading taxes by saying their constituents expect them to personally address most of their issues.

Mr Michuki had told Parliament that Treasury would get Sh600 million as proceeds from the legislators taxes.

Mr Kimunya had also suggested that constitutional office holders, including the Attorney General, Public Service Commissioners, Electoral Commissioners, the Controller and Auditor General and judges be compelled to pay taxes on their allowances.

But on Tuesday, the visiting lawmakers questioned why other citizens should pay taxes when the countries leadership was exempted.

“In Rwanda we lead by example otherwise our business leaders would also look for ways not to pay taxes and this would impact negatively on our growing economy,” said the MP who didn’t want to be named.

The MPs also discourage against hefty packages for the legislators. Mr Aidoo said they should only be given enough to enhance their work. 

He also urged the Kenya legislators to ensure they deliver on their pre election promises.

“Parliament should even extend its sittings hours to ensure they pass necessary Bills and they should not sacrifice quality just to pass Bills.”

The legislators are in Nairobi to attend the National Reconciliation and Institutional Reforms Process Seminar organized for the Kenyan MPs at a Nairobi Hotel. The seminar concludes on Wednesday.


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