Tax saga placed on Kibaki doorstep

December 5, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 -The Law Society of Kenya has petitioned President Mwai Kibaki to reject the Finance Bill in its current form which excludes a clause that seeks to tax hefty allowances enjoyed by Members of Parliament.

Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said on Thursday that the society had submitted a letter to President Mwai Kibaki requesting him to exercise his powers and send the Bill back to the House for amendment.

Mr Omogeni said the letter is asking the President to return the Bill with a memorandum to the Speaker requesting for the re-introduction of the clause legalising the taxation of MPs allowances, which was deleted by the lawmakers a week ago.

Mr Omogeni said: “He is the only one who has veto powers under section 46 of the Constitution to overrule what the MPs have done.”

The lawyers implored the President to use his powers to compel the legislators to pay taxes like all other Kenyans.

“We believe the President can read the public mood.  He watches television and he will be able to take on board the views of Kenyans,” he said.

Members of Parliament had threatened to shoot down the Finance Bill unless acting Finance Minister John Michuki deleted the clause. After Mr Michuki refused to move the amendment, Parliamentary Finance Committee Chairman Chris Okemo initiated debate on the matter.

The MPs have come under fire from various quarters for this ‘selfish act’. A handful of lawmakers have however declared their interest to remit taxes. However, Speaker Kenneth Marende has challenged them to first amend the law to allow for the taxation. Mr Omogeni has backed the Speaker’s call.

“Basically it is the clause that is going to bring the MPs to the taxation bracket,” he said.

Mr Marende has also constituted a committee of professionals to review the allowances of parliamentarians and the taxation.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga confirmed on Tuesday that the government would lobby the legislators but clarified that the Executive arm could not force its way on parliamentarians.  Mr Odinga said the Cabinet would introduce a clause in the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill towards this end.

The remuneration of MPs total is over Sh800,000 but only Sh200,000 is taxed.


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