Kenyan MPs strike deal not to pay taxes

July 22, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 22 – Members of Parliament finally took a break on Thursday after striking a deal that will allow them to continue enjoying tax-free benefits until 2012.

The MPs agreed to take the break after a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki earlier in the day where they were assured their concerns would be addressed.

The lawmakers had remained defiant over failure to table Bills to effect the controversial pay increase, frustrating the adjournment Motion twice.

"The House was supposed to adjourn almost two weeks ago for obvious reasons and I think this morning we tried to resolve the stalemate and I want to thank the President," said Government Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo while moving the successful adjournment Motion on Thursday afternoon.

The Motion was seconded by Gichugu MP Martha Karua.

There were reports that during the Speaker’s Kamukunji, the President said the proposed pay hike would be implemented in the next Parliament.  Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta reportedly gave an assurance that MPs’ salaries would not be taxed even if the proposed Constitution gets the public nod at the August 4 referendum. The draft states that every Kenyan should pay tax and it remains unclear how the MPs will be exempt from the law.

The two-hour meeting was also attended by National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka at Parliament buildings. But as soon as the President left the Chamber the MPs expressed reservations on the deal, with some saying that they were being duped into backing the Adjournment Motion.

The government wanted the House to adjourn its sittings to allow MPs time to effectively participate in the campaigns for the proposed Constitution.

The afternoon session was preceded by a Motion to amend Parliament’s resolution that required the Finance Minister to table the Bills for the implementation of the proposed pay hike.

The amendment removed a seven-day timeline within which Mr Kenyatta was supposed to act. The House has now allowed him an indefinite leeway “to consult the President.”

"This motion will give the Finance Minister more time to consult and implement the Akiwumi Commission Report within reasonable time; the AG, Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General and The Treasury agree with this opinion and we will hold them to this commitment," said Mr Midiwo.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi supported the Motion saying it would allow the Finance Minister to seek the President’s consent of the hike.

"This will kill the notion that there was haste in the process because of the seven-day tag. This matter will require more time," he said.

After that Motion sailed through, the government Whip then moved the adjournment Motion which also passed without objection.

The House will, however, resume its sitting on August 10, after Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro moved an amendment to change the date from the August 17. He claimed that the MPs had a lot of business to transact.


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