Fury as MPs refuse to pay their taxes
Posted Wednesday, November 12 2008 at 22:22
- MPs accuse the media of allegedly sensationalising the matter, saying they already paid taxes amounting to Sh53,000 each month on their basic salaries, which stand at Sh200,000.
- Several leaders say all Kenyans should contribute to the day-to-day running of the Government, and therefore paying tax was a must for all.
- The Judiciary is in a dilemma on whether to continue taxing judges following the withdrawal of the proposal.
Leaders reacted with fury on Wednesday after MPs blocked plans to make them pay tax on their generous perks.
Churches, NGOs, the International Commission of Jurists and the workers’ umbrella organisation, Cotu, described the move as selfish. They said MPs should take the lead in paying taxes.
Bishop Julius Kagwi of Mombasa Methodist Church called for mass action against the MPs to force them to pay their taxes.
The outrage came after acting Finance minister John Michuki withdrew on Tuesday clauses in the Finance Bill, which would have made MPs and constitutional office holders pay tax.
He did so to secure MPs passing of taxation laws to allow the Government to collect revenue.
The proposal to tax MPs’ perks was made by former Finance minister Amos Kimunya in the Budget he read in June.
But MPs defended their decision to protect their allowances from being taxed. They accused the media of allegedly sensationalising the matter and said they already paid taxes amounting to Sh53,000 each month on their basic salaries, which stand at Sh200,000.
Two MPs — MPs Elias Mbau (Maragwa, PNU) and John Mbadi (Gwassi, ODM) — drew the attention of Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim to headlines in sections of the media.
But on Wednesday, Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli asked why MPs had arm-twisted the minister to withdraw the Kimunya proposal.
Mr Michuki’s agreement to withdraw the tax demand came after a closed door meeting with MPs, during which he is understood to have been told that the Bill would otherwise be blocked.
The churches spoke out under the umbrella of the Inter-Religious Forum, describing the MPs’ move as “selfish and inconsiderate”.
“They don’t know the pain the poor Kenyans go through while paying taxes so that they can earn their salary,” said the Rev Peter Karanja of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
The leaders said all Kenyans should contribute to the day-to-day running of the Government, and therefore paying tax was a must for all.
“The MPs are holders of constitutional offices, which are big spenders of tax money, and they should contribute to the same,” the Rev Karanja said.
The churches called for an independent body to be made responsible for dealing with MPs’ pay and perks and to suggest how they should be taxed.
Among those present were Presbyterian Church of East Africa Moderator the Rev Dr David Gathii, Fr Vincent Wambugu of Kenya Episcopal Conference, Prof Abdul Busaidi of Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Mr Rashmin Chitnis who represented the Hindu Council of Kenya and Dr Willy Mutiso of Evangelical Alliance of Kenya.
John Cardinal Njue supported the stand taken by the Inter-Religious Forum.