ODM takes on Jubilee as court battle over new fuel tax begins

High Court to begin hearing contempt of court proceedings against government.

A petrol station in Kabarnet, Baringo displays new fuel prices following the implementation of the 16 per cent tax on petroleum products. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

IN SUMMARY

  • ODM is pushing hard for the government to respect the order issued in Bungoma last week halting the implementation of the tax.
  • Edwin Sifuna added that Jubilee has a history of disobeying court orders and treating them based on their ‘friendliness.’

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A raging court battle over a new 16 per cent Value Added Tax on petroleum products will start Wednesday after the Government failed to comply with High Court order reversing the levy that came into force on September 1.

The Energy Regulatory Commission, which on Friday said it had not been ‘properly served’ with the court order, is expected to be put to task for contempt of court filed by Lawyer Ken Amondi who wants Kenyans compensated for what he terms ‘illegal levying of VAT on petroleum products from 4.00PM on 6/9/2018.’

“That this court be pleased to issue an urgent notice upon Energy Regulatory Commission Director General to show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be brought against him,” reads the application.

At the same time, the Orange Democratic Movement is pushing hard for the government to respect the order issued in Bungoma last week halting the implementation of the tax.

MORE PAIN

The Raila Odinga-led party accused ERC, the body charged with regulating prices in the sector, of deliberately ignoring the court order and inflicting more pain on an already overburdened population.

“The government has leeched on poor Kenyans to the extent that they have nothing more to give. In this debt-laden, corruption-ridden economy that holds little promise for the ordinary mwananchi, it is nothing but sheer insanity to now try to tax the citizens to their graves,” said the party's Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna in a statement.

He added that Jubilee has a history of disobeying court orders and treating them based on their ‘friendliness.’

“A casual glance at that history will reveal the impunity of these actions, from court orders halting police recruitment a few years ago that were ignored, orders for the appearance of CS Fred Matiang'i and the Inspector General of police in court as well as the subsequent warrants for their arrest, and the now infamous multiple orders to restore Miguna Miguna's passport and produce him in court,” Mr Sifuna said.

POOR POLICIES

“We would have thought that this would be the time to push through pro-poor policies that would lessen the burden on the proverbial tired donkey, but what do you know, they came for fuel, whose ripple effect is being felt in every corner of the nation. This is a burden the people cannot shoulder anymore,” he added and urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to live true to his oath of office and ensure government institutions obey court orders.

Justice Stephen Riechi on Thursday gave orders quashing the decision by the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Energy Regulatory Commission to implement the 16 per cent levy on petroleum products to enable the President to either assent to or reject the amended Finance Bill passed by the National Assembly.

The State, through the Attorney General, is expected to put up a spirited response to keep the levy in place, on the grounds that the order to shelve it will be a big blow to the economy.

FINANCE BILL

The State Counsels also insist that President Kenyatta has to sign the Bill pushing the implementation dates for the tax before it is acted on.

“Under our legal system, a bill passed by Parliament is not law unless assented to by the President and published in the Kenya Gazette as an Act of Parliament or passed in accordance with Article 115 of the Constitution. This has not happened with the Finance Bill 2018,” reads the application filed by the Attorneys-General’s office.

Lawyer Ken Amondi, representing the Sumawe Youth Group, however insists the State ought to have complied with the Thursday court order first before making any application, an argument he is expected to advance tomorrow before Kisumu High Court Judge Fred Ochieng’.

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