- Speaking at a Harambee function held at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Kitui, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua fervently advocated for the immediate passage of the Finance Bill 2023, despite growing dissent from various quarters.
- However, Gachagua's firm stance did not go unchallenged as Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu opposed the bill, arguing that taxing the people excessively would not lead to prosperity.
Speaking at a Harambee function held at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Kitui, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua fervently advocated for the immediate passage of the Finance Bill 2023, despite growing dissent from various quarters.
Gachagua's unyielding stance on tax increases has sparked controversy, with critics accusing him of forcefully imposing the bill on the public.
During his address, Gachagua argued that it was essential for citizens to contribute through taxes to support both capital and recurrent expenditures.
He emphasized the contradiction in demanding improved infrastructure while simultaneously rejecting tax hikes.
"I am a person who speaks the truth; people must give taxes to finance our capital and recurrent expenditure... there was a call to recruit more teachers, who will pay for this? I can't pay for it with my Sh1 million salary... that money will be gotten from the citizens," asserted Gachagua.
Taking a direct jab at Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga, who vehemently called for the Finance Bill 2023 to be scrapped entirely, Gachagua dismissed the opposition's efforts, saying they do not have the numbers to turn things around.
"Even if you make noise and put sufurias on your head, even if you reject the bill, thinking it won't pass, you don't have the numbers and that's the truth, there's no need."
However, Gachagua's firm stance did not go unchallenged as Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu opposed the bill, arguing that taxing the people excessively would not lead to prosperity.
Mulu urged the government to explore alternative avenues rather than burdening taxpayers.
"We must say the truth. This is taxpayers' money. I appeal to the government to reconsider the move to increase VAT on petroleum products from 8 per cent to 16 per cent. Look for alternative ways," urged Mulu.
Despite the opposition, Gachagua found support from fellow politicians such as Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai, who declared the Finance Bill 2023 to be a foregone conclusion.
Mbai emphasized the need to follow in Singapore's footsteps and urged the passing of the bill, highlighting the benefits of the Housing Levy, which would create employment opportunities for the youth, with only a 3 per cent deduction.
"We want to do what Singapore did and we must pass this Finance Bill to get to where the country is. The Housing Levy will enable youths get jobs and it's only 3 per cent that is being deducted," Mbai said.
Nominated Senator Tabitha Mutinda also championed the Finance Bill, applauding its provisions as a treasure trove of benefits.
She specifically mentioned the exemption on fertilizers, which would bolster the agricultural sector.
Mutinda sought to reassure the public, emphasizing that those who did not wish to participate in the housing scheme would retain access to their money.
"People are focusing on the Housing Levy. If you don't want the houses being offered, you will have access to your money," Mutinda said.
As the Finance Bill 2023 continues to spark heated debates and divisions among politicians and citizens alike, the government faces the arduous task of striking a delicate balance between funding essential infrastructure projects and addressing the concerns of taxpayers.
The bill's fate hangs in the balance, leaving the nation eagerly awaiting the final verdict on its controversial provisions.