If MPs were duped on taxes, too bad

June 23, 2011 8:56 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – The Kenya Human Rights Commission maintains that Members of Parliament are flouting the Constitution for not paying taxes.

Senior Programme Officer Tom Kagwe told Capital News that the Constitution was clear that MPs were not exempted from taxes and their excuse only portrayed their selfishness.

"The Constitution provides that no law excludes or authorises the exclusion of a State officer from payment of tax by reason of the office held by that officer or the nature of work of that state officer, the Constitution should be read holistically," he said.

Mr Kagwe said it was unfair for parliamentarians who are in charge of legislation to be the first to defy the same laws they make.

He urged them to stop taking Kenyans for granted by looking for different ideas to get away from their responsibilities of patriotism – paying taxes being key.

He said MPs should have read the Constitution and understood it before rushing to listen to political promises that cannot overrule the power of the law protected by the Constitution.

\’They are playing political games with us, actually they should have started paying taxes from August last year unless they are reading from another Constitution. If they were lied to by their political heads, there is no problem. They should have read the Constitution for themselves. Let them read the constitution and get answers from there, it is in simple English!" he retorted.

Mr Kagwe further dismissed their proposals to be given more time before paying taxes.

He said in the spirit of solidarity, MPs including the President should all remit their taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority just like the rest of Kenyans have been doing.

Mr Kagwe also contradicted Prime Minister Raila Odinga who on Tuesday said MPs and Ministers should be allowed to hold political party positions.

He said Mr Odinga was wrong to misinterpret the Constitution in the full glare of the public.

"Politicians must be told when they are wrong. Mr Odinga must be told. We must unmask the king… he is wrong and all others who are wrong for saying there is nothing wrong with MPs and Ministers holding political positions, there is a clear provision in the constitution," he said.

He urged the public to be on the lookout to ensure nobody flouts the law and should it happen, he said there were platforms provided in the Constitution that empowered the public to point fingers at those infringing the law.

On Tuesday, a section of MPs said taxes on them should not apply to the current MPs but the next Parliament since they were paying mortgages and other loans.

They also claimed they were told that the new requirements on taxation would not apply to them before they passed the Constitution.

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