NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – The Association of Professional Societies in East Africa (APSEA) has also joined the chorus urging President Mwai Kibaki not to assent the Finance Bill into law unless it is amended to compel Members of Parliament to pay taxes.,
Chairman Daniel Ichang’i described the move by MPs to shoot down attempts to tax their allowances as “a case of gross abuse of legislative privilege.”
He said: “This move, which will cost the economy Sh600 million annually, is totally unacceptable especially at a time when millions of Kenyans are facing extremely difficult times occasioned by spiralling food prices and dwindling incomes.”
The association objected to the voluntary payment of taxes by a section of the MPs and asked the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to encourage a uniform application of tax laws.
“It is the duty of every Kenyan to compel these MPs to pay taxes. Tax should never be paid voluntarily. We want to reiterate that APSEA will continue to actively pursue this matter to ensure that the MPs pay taxes on their allowances and will seek all available avenues towards this end. We look forward to prevailing of sense of duty and courage by the August House,” the chairman stated.
Mr Ichang’i called for a constitutional amendment that would subject any increase to the MPs’ emoluments to a referendum.
“MPs should no longer be allowed to fix their remuneration. We must effect constitutional changes to rein in these rogue MPs and develop a more objective method of paying the legislators, taking into account their performance in the House,” he said.
The association opposed the formation of a tribunal to look into the taxation of MPs wages saying it was unnecessary and a sheer waste of time.
At the same time, APSEA termed the ongoing debate on the pricing for maize flour as misplaced and instead called for the adoption pro-poor policies that will see basic commodities become more affordable.
“The lowering prices of food, petrol and electricity are necessary steps to galvanising this country,” he said. “We seem to forget that there are people who can’t afford to have one square meal per day and our leaders seemed to have forgotten that aspect.”
He warned that if the food shortage was not addressed it could be ‘a powder keg for a revolution in the country’.
During Wednesday morning’s parliamentary session lawmakers raised concerns about the disparity between the cheaper State-commissioned flour and other brands.
The subsidised commodity is part of a resolution reached between the government and maize millers last week in a bid to cushion Kenyans from the escalating price of food.
On Tuesday, the government introduced a cheaper five-kilogramme packet of maize flour retailing at Sh130.
The price of a two-kilogram packet rose to Sh120 last month up from Sh48 in December last year, owing to the scarcity of maize in the country. The President later called it an artificial shortage created by unscrupulous businessmen and greedy politicians.