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MPs show tax slack

NAIROBI, November 29 – Following days of unrelenting pressure from the public MPs seem to be showing signs of letting up on demands to have their hefty allowances taxed.

The Parliamentary Finance Committee is said to be engaged in deliberations with acting Finance Minister John Michuki over the tax controversy.

Assistant Minister for Defense David Musila told Capital News on Saturday that the legislators were likely to offer some of their allowances for tax deductions.

“There are some allowances that we think need to be exempted from tax. Take for example our car allowance which is just enough to repair the car, you cannot tax that because it is all used,” he said. “We want to pay tax, but there must be a law to support this.”

Mr Musila said if successful the consultations would come up with some amendments to the Finance Bill that was passed by the legislators earlier in the week.

Parliament has defied public anger and gone on to amend the Finance Bill to their favour, awakening public uproar. However a total of 11 MPs have come out openly supporting the taxation proposals.

Kangundo legislator Johnstone Muthama, who was the first to offer his allowances for taxation, has already confirmed that the Kenya Revenue Authority has deducted tax from his November pocket money.

“I will call a press conference next week and show my slip and how the money was deducted,” he said.

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Mr Muthama has now been joined by seven of his colleagues; Francis Nyammo (Tetu), Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa), Cyrus Jirongo (Lugari), Clement Muchiri (Mathioya), plus Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Esther Murugi and Mwangi Kiunjuri.

Another section of the legislators who say they are ready to be taxed want the law amended to support the taxation. Assistant Ministers Nderitu Muriithi and Musila, and Kibwezi MP Phillip Kaloki said on Saturday that there was need to get consensus on the issue.

“I want to pay but I want to make sure there is law on it. We must have order,” Mr Kaloki said.

Mr Muriithi said he would lobby his colleagues from Central and Rift Valley provinces to support the move to have their allowances taxed.

“Those who have volunteered to be taxed are just playing a political gimmick. They are going against the law,” he said.

“The MPs should have instead gone through Parliament to have the taxation law passed, instead of playing public relations through the media.”

The MPs had threatened to shoot down the Finance Bill unless Mr Michuki withdrew the clause facilitating the taxation measures. Even after holding two ‘Kamukunjis’ the legislators remained defiant and not even technocrats from the Treasury could convince them otherwise.

Assistant Minister Margaret Wanjiru has also supported the taxation but failed to commit her allowances for deduction.

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