MPs defy Kenyans over tax

November 25, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 25 – Members of Parliament on Tuesday 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 document.

Finance and Trade Committee Chairman Chris Okemo moved the motion to have Clauses 39 and 43 deleted after Acting Finance Minister John Michuki refused to do so.

“The Government still believes that MPs should pay taxes and also my conscience cannot allow me to push for the deletion of the clause,” Mr Michuki told the House.

It was clear that the MPs would not budge after a Kamukunji (an informal meeting) called to discuss the public’s sentiments over the matter.

Legislators arm-twisted Mr Michuki during a similar sitting two weeks ago into dropping the proposal to tax their hefty allowances.

Only three out of the 222 MPs have volunteered to have their taxes deducted, a move that National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende dismissed as unworkable.

“Parliament taxes in accordance with the law so if a member writes to the Clerk of the National Assembly and says he wants to be taxed that may not be effected because it would be against the law,” Mr Marende said.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who is also the leader of government business had indicated on Tuesday that MPs would be persuaded to change their stand on the matter during Tuesday’s Kamukunji.  Kalonzo however failed to attend the meeting but later said he would push for consensus on the matter.

“It is not very difficult for you to imagine what my position on this matter will be because I believe in transparency. But as a leader of government business I need to carry everybody along. If I were to polarise members it would be very unfortunate,” he said.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni and Tetu’s Francis Nyammo wrote to the Clerk of the National Assembly on Monday asking him to tax their perks.

Their move followed a similar one by Kangundo legislator Johnson Muthama who last week wrote a letter to the Clerk and the Commissioner of Income Tax.

The proposal to tax the legislators was introduced by the former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya during the reading of the 2008/2009 fiscal year budget in June.

The 222 MPs each earn over Sh800, 000 per month, out of which Sh200, 000 is their basic salary for which they pay taxes. The rest of the money is tax free.

A section of the MPs have in the past justified the tax evasion saying their constituents expect them to address most of their financial challenges.



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