NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 19 – National Land Commission (NLC) nominee for Chairperson Gershom Otachi was taken to task on Thursday over tax compliance during his vetting by the National Assembly Committee on Lands.
Members raised concerns about a letter presented by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) accusing Otachi of not being a tax compliant citizen.
“You applied this job and you know the mandate of the NLC chair. Bearing that in mind, the committee is in possession of a letter from KRA saying you do not pay tax, this is a very serious matter and can have adverse consequences on your job seeking.
“Are you aware of the accusations raised that you do not pay tax and how are you going to handle that?” Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny questioned.
He was seconded by other committee members among them committee chairperson Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South MP) who sought to know why the nominee was not tax compliant.
“It is true we have that letter here and it would be prudent for us to listen to the nominee’s side on this issue because it is a serious one that can have dire consequences not only to the nominee but also KRA,” Nyamai said.
In a quick rejoinder however, Otachi submitted a certificate of tax compliance issued to him by KRA on June 12.
Otachi defended himself saying he files his returns and has complied with all the KRA requirements as far as tax is concerned.
“It is so unfortunate that this matter had to come up on the day I am being vetted but I have with me a valid certificate of tax compliance given to me by KRA. I do not understand how then another conflicting letter can be presented here. It is just so unfortunate, but one thing is that my integrity and honesty is unquestionable,” he expressed.
After a long debate between Otachi and MPs, the committee resorted to invite the KRA Commissioner in charge of Domestic Taxes Division Edward Mbugua who signed the letter to appear before it on Friday to clarify the matter and state the true position of Otachi’s tax compliance status.
Besides that, Otachi vowed to use his 29 years’ experience in law to transform NLC.
Also vetted on Thursday is former Nyeri MP Esther Murugi who was put on spot concerning her age by Kisauni legislator Ali Mbogo.
Mbogo was of the opinion that Murugi, having held different public service jobs before, should have paved way for a younger person to be considered for a commissioner job.
“You have been a CS for 10 years, you have been an MP for 10 years, do you think it is fair to the young Kenyans out there looking at you right now, at your age still running for a public service job?” Mbogo posed.
Murugi, 66, said her age will not stop her from delivering her mandate.
“You are concerned about my age, but I do not think at the NLC I am going to do dancing or some football. If it is walking, I can walk, if it is running, I can run if the commission requires me to run. I can assure you that I am fitter than some 35-year old and I go to the gym every morning. Again, age is just but a number,” she said amid laughter.
Gertrude Nduku, Reginald Okumu and Samuel Kambi who were nominated to the NLC as commissioners were also vetted.
Hubbie Hussein, Alister Murimi and Tiya Galgalo are due to be vetted on Friday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated Otachi, a Managing Partner at a Nairobi-based law firm, last month.
Otachi was among 11 candidates shortlisted for the position of NLC Chairperson which fell vacant in February after Mohammad Swazuri’s six-year term came to an end.
Others who had been shortlisted for the job included former Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner General John Njiraini, former Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) Chairperson Mwenda Makatimo and former lawmakers Tiyah Galgalo Ali (Isiolo Woman Representative) and Humphrey Njuguna (Gatanga).