Officials at the Treasury have surrendered yet again to cartels and thrown out budgetary proposals meant to raise big money through capital gains tax and tax on idle land.
Capital gains tax used to be in our statutes up to the 1980s during the land grab menace of the former regime. The tax would be applicable upon sale of the grabbed land.
But because land grabbers were the ruling elite, they prevailed upon the Treasury, through the minister for Finance, to abolish the tax.
The other tax on idle land has not been implemented because the same ruling cartel is the repository of idle land held for speculative purposes.
A good example is the ongoing land grab at the Naivasha geothermal-producing area, Lamu port belt, Turkana oil region and Ukambani coal fields.
To discourage the capital lords from these speculative activities, tax on idle land should be imposed at 80 per cent of sale value while the capital gains tax should be levied at 50 per cent of sale value.
Those that have bought land near Vision 2030 flagship projects for speculative purposes hope to sell it at over 100 times what they initially bought.
So if one used Sh50 million to buy land near geothermal-producing terrain, they could make Sh5 billion not far from now. Would they be willing to pay half that money to Kenya Revenue Authority?
I am not suggesting that officials at the Treasury were bribed to do away with the taxes but you get my drift.
Officials at the Treasury need to explain why, in the face of reducing acreage under food, they cannot do the right thing.
This nation needs to put at least one million irrigated acres under maize, rice, wheat and sugar so as to break the iron back of cartels that make Kenyans pay more for the staple foods than international prices.
If we irrigated one million acres along the Tana, the Athi and other schemes, the results would be low food prices, low inflation, more dollars from exports of value-added produce, over a million quality jobs, stability of the shilling, low interest rates and ultimately high investments.
Cartels in Kenya are created by corruption networks. Look at the issue of school books and uniforms. How come only a few businesses are the reference point for a majority of schools? The answer is corruption.
It is imperative that all presidential candidates understand it will not be business as usual unless we do away with cartels, including banks, that are making our people poorer as they grow richer. We expect real issues to win.
Kariuki Muiri, Karatina.