Will Uhuru end fuel tax cries? - Daily Nation

Fuel tax decision looms as Uhuru receives Finance Bill

Thursday September 13 2018

Oil tankers

Oil tankers parked outside the National Oil Nairobi Terminus Depot in Industrial Area on September 3, 2018. Distributors grounded the trucks to protest the new tax on fuel. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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By SAMWEL OWINO
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Parliament has presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta the Finance Bill passed two weeks ago for the 16 per cent VAT on petroleum products to be suspended.

Majority leader Aden Duale confirmed on Thursday evening that the Bill was presented to President Kenyatta.

“We took the bill to the President for assent this evening.” Mr Duale told the Nation.

DELAY

The law states that within 14 days after receipt of a Bill, the President shall assent to it or refer it back to Parliament for reconsideration.

If the President refers a Bill back for reconsideration, Parliament may amend it in light of the President’s reservations or pass it a second time without amendment.

If Parliament amends the Bill fully accommodating the President’s reservations, the Speaker shall re-submit it to him for assent.

In passing the Bill on August 30, Members of Parliament deferred the charging of the 16 per cent VAT for two years up to 2020.

The presentation of the Bill came after a section of MPs pointed the accusing finger at National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, saying he took too long to submit it.

Minority Leader John Mbadi earlier said: “There is no justification at all for why the Bill is still in Parliament. It should be taken to the President to either assent to it or refer it back to the House with a memorandum. I find it dishonest and immoral for Parliament to continue holding the Bill while people are suffering."

He added: “I don’t want to be part of a leadership that does not listen to the voice of Kenyans that has been so loud."

SUFFERING

The Minority Leader further said the delay in submitting the Bill can only be interpreted to mean that Parliament is colluding with the Executive to subject Kenyans to a lot of suffering.

Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga said: “The Finance Bill should be presented for Presidential assent without further delay. The President’s silence on a matter of such great importance to Kenyans leaves a lot to be desired."

Ms Wanga called for total overhaul as the country is in a difficult situation where debts are concerned.

Uriri MP Mark Nyamita said: “I don’t want to believe that the Speaker is still sitting on a matter that Parliament has pronounced itself on."

Mathias Robi (Kuria West) said President Kenyatta should assent to the Bill as people are suffering.

“We should look for other ways of getting money for development. Taxing fuel eventually affects the poor people,” Mr Robi said.

Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga added: “The prices of basic commodities have risen and the cost of living is becoming unbearable. Millers, for example, have issued a notice to hike their prices."

The technical committee formed last week, comprising officials from the Treasury and National Assembly leaders who are to look into the imposition of the VAT, is yet to find a solution despite several meetings including one at State House on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie told the Senate committee on energy that postponing the implementation of the law for two more years will not solve the problem as nothing will change.

REVENUE STREAMS

The Bill was amended by MPs to suspend the implementation of the tax and remove two other government revenue streams - one a fee on salaried workers to fund housing scheme and another a fee on high bank transactions.

Pressure has mounted for the Head of State to sign to law the Bill suspending the new taxes on fuel to spare Kenyans the agony of the high cost of living.

The president returned to the country from China on Sunday but has remained tight-lipped on the matter amid the cost of living.

If he assents to the Bill, the VAT will be suspended, bringing down the cost of fuel.