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Clergy root for lower taxes

NAIROBI, October 9 – The Catholic Church is urging the government to reduce tax on basic commodities to cushion Kenyans against the rising cost of living.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) Chairman Reverend Peter Kairu said it was regrettable that people were dying of hunger in the country, mainly because of skyrocketing food prices.

The Bishops, who included CJPC’s vice Chairman Zacchaeus Okoth however maintained their opposition to the hasty introduction of genetically modified foods without sufficient research. “Our land is rich and it has manure which we can tap on so that the food we eat can be more naturally satisfying to the body without all these genetic modifications, fertilizers and other ingredients which are not necessary,” Bishop Okoth said as he urged the government to concentrate on exploiting the potential in the country.

The clergy also put the government on the spot over the fate of internally displaced persons. “We urge the government and relevant organisations to take steps and end the suffering of those Kenyans through people-centered, effective and efficient interventions.”

The church dismissed politicians who are campaigning for the 2012 elections and urged them to concentrate first on healing and reconciling the country. “Surely, with some people still displaced, there is no way you can ask them to elect you four years below the line. This is the time to mature as true democrats,” Bishop Kairu stated calling on them to focus on nation building and avoid derailing tactics.

On the issue of graft, the Catholic Bishops criticised the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, saying it had failed to fulfil its purpose. “We may soon be forced to have another Anti-Anti Corruption watchdog to square the mess at KACC. It is high time that methods of reformation of conscience are adopted to save our nation from further destruction,” said Bishop Okoth.

He challenged the investigative arm of the government to take up their role more seriously. “The security forces seem to be overwhelmed by the turn of events. Even hard core criminals are back on the streets due to inadequate investigations causing more dangers.”

The Church challenged the government to institute the necessary institutional reforms for the good of the country as informed by the various commissions of inquiry. It wants parliament to give priority to the Constitution of Kenya amendment bill, the Constitution of Kenya review bill, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission bill and the National Ethnic and Race Relations bill which emanated from the peace talks.

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Kairu nonetheless remained adamant that it was against the controversial reproductive health bill which allegedly seeks to legalise abortion.

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