Kenya anti graft czar backs MPs taxation

April 1, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – The director of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission Aaron Ringera wants Members of Parliament to pass the necessary legislation that will see their salaries taxed, but argues that the law should go into effect after 2012.

Justice (rtd) Ringera who appeared before a tribunal appointed to review the salaries of the law makers at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre argued that it was unlikely the 10th Parliament would pass any Bill that would allow for the immediate taxation of their pay package.

"If they don’t pass the law, the incoming Parliament will say that MPs are used to earning their remuneration without taxation," The KACC boss told the 11-member tribunal led by Justice (rtd) Akilano Akiwumi.

In November 2008, MPs defied the public and rejected a proposal to have their allowances taxed. The legislators deleted clauses in the Finance Bill that had proposed taxation on their six-figure perks and approved the rest of the budget.

The government is however still pushing for the taxation of the lawmakers saying the move would earn Treasury an additional Sh670 million a year.

The Head of the Public Service Francis Muthaura on Monday told the tribunal that the remuneration of MPs should not be increased, and also pushed taxation of the existing salary and benefits.

On his part, Justice Ringera criticised the legislators saying they lacked the moral authority to scrutinise and direct how government revenue – which is a pool of taxes – was used when they contributed very little towards the revenue.

"It is wrong for a group of people to sit down to approve the budget and income of another group," Justice Ringera stated.

A section of the MPs have in the past justified their refusal to pay taxes saying their constituents expect them to meet most of their financial needs.

The KACC boss however stated that there were various government initiatives such as the Constituency Development Fund that that can serve this public cause.

"Even wealthy Kenyans assist the needy in society and this has not exempted them from their obligation to pay taxes. Philanthropy is a practice by choice and is best left that way."


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