Kimunya withdraws KRA Bill over Duale’s radical proposals

The Kenya Revenue Authority's head office at Times Towers in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya has withdrawn a Bill that sought to rebrand the tax agency because he disagrees with the radical proposals that were introduced by his predecessor.

Mr Kimunya stunned the House yesterday when he withdrew the Kenya Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill 2022 over changes that were initiated by former Majority Leader Aden Duale.

The Garissa Township MP had proposed to have the Commissioner-General recruited by the board through a competitive process and appointed by the President following the approval of the House.

He was to hold office for four years and would be eligible for re-appointment for one term, subject to satisfactory performance.

“The Commissioner-General shall be appointed on such terms and conditions of service as the board may determine in the instrument of appointment, upon advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC),” Mr Duale’s amendments stated.

The law currently provides that the Commissioner-General shall be appointed by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the National Treasury upon the recommendation of the board on the terms and conditions specified in his instrument of appointment.

On July 1, 2019, Mr Mburu Githii was appointed for a term of three years and on August 13, 2020, his tenure was extended to five years.

Mr Kimunya was, however, not comfortable with Mr Duale’s proposals and invoked Order Number 140 (1) of the National Assembly Standing Orders to withdraw the Bill.

“Because this is such a fundamental alteration of the original Bill, I want to save this House time to debate it by withdrawing it,” he said.

Luanda MP Christopher Omulele was at the time chairing the committee of the whole House. The Standing Order states that “either before the commencement of business or on the Order of the Day for any stage of the Bill being read, the member in charge of a Bill may, without notice, claim to withdraw a Bill.”

Not an abuse of the proceedings

Part two of this Standing Order provides that if the Speaker is of the opinion that the claim is not an abuse of the proceedings of the House, he shall direct that the Bill shall be withdrawn.

The Bill, which targeted 13 laws that relate to taxation, sought to rebrand KRA to Kenya Revenue Services (KRS). “The public perception of the use of the word ‘authority’ is that the word connotes a commandeering body rather than a friendly service-oriented institution,” it reads.

“In this regard, the change of name is intended to rebrand the authority in transforming its public image and thus enhancing tax compliance through improved public relations and by maintaining a clear focus on taxpayers needs and rights.”

The laws that were targeted for amendment under the KRA Bill 2022 include the Anti-Counterfeit Act, Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, Income Tax Act and Air Passenger Services Act, Stamp Duty Act.

Others are Export Processing Zones Act, Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, Tax Appeals Tribunal Act, Special Economic Zones Act, Excise Duty Act, Tax Procedures Act and Miscellaneous Fees and Levies Act.

“A person who, immediately before the commencement of this Act, held the office of Commissioner-General, member of the board or commissioner, shall continue to hold office only for the unexpired period of their term,” Mr Duale’s proposed amendment stated.

He had also proposed that the Commissioner-General should not have a right to vote at any meeting of the board and should not be counted for purposes of quorum.

Mr Duale sought to have the eligibility for appointment as Commissioner-General to include a person who holds a degree in taxation, economics, finance, accounting, law, banking, trade, supply chain, actuarial science, business management or public administration.

Holding a post-graduate degree and knowledge, competence and at least 15 years of experience in a senior managerial capacity in revenue management, taxation, business administration, banking, accounting, supply chain and public administration.

Mr Duale had also proposed that one shall not be eligible for appointment if they are directly or indirectly or through representatives, engaged as a director, employee, officer or shareholder of an insurance company, brokerage or in any business relating to public revenue collection.

The individual should also have not been previously involved in the management or administration of any institution which is deregistered, wound-up or placed under statutory management for any failure on the part of the management or administration.

Conviction of any offence involving fraud, theft, dishonesty, breach of trust or moral turpitude would have been an automatic disqualification.

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