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Githae withdraws VAT Bill

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 31 – Finance Minister Robinson Githae has bowed to pressure and withdrawn the much-criticised VAT Bill from being debated in Parliament.

The Bill had received hostility from MPs and the business sector as it would have imposed a tax on crucial food items like flour and milk.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende told the House that Githae was out of the country and he had requested that all Bills from the Treasury be shelved until he returns to the House.

The controversial Bill would herald the introduction of 16 percent tax on food stuffs, farm implements, agricultural machinery, exercise books, sanitary towels, mosquito nets and capital investments among other proposals.

MPs had tried lobbying the Speaker to veto the Bill and stop any debate until the public was given ample time to internalise its implications.

Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale said it would be suicidal for politicians in this electioneering period to just wake up and make recommendations that will affect the lives of millions of poor Kenyans, saying if unchecked the repercussions would be grave.

“We would like you to help us so that long before this matter is brought before us, the people be given adequate notice. I don’t want to commit suicide by asking Kenyans to pay more for food, school fees, medication; where will the money come from?” Khalwale said.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo said the Constitution speaks aloud on all matters touching on the life of Kenyans, saying the proposal by the finance minister was out of tune.

“How would a government in this part of the world, imagine it can put VAT on ugali (maize meal), on chapati, or on sanitary towel?” posed Kilonzo

Dujis MP Aden Duale said dignity of Kenyans was at stake saying the proposal of 16 percent VAT on almost all products consumed by the poor would sink this country to unimaginable levels of trouble.

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“A VAT increase on food, medication, exercise books will fundamentally affect the dignity of the Kenyan masses and more so the poor,” Duale said.

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