DP Gachagua wades into tax controversy
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua yesterday waded into the tax payment controversy, urging those with huge and unpaid taxes to negotiate with the state on how to settle the debts.
“If you have a problem with what we are asking you to pay we are open to discussions, come and we agree on how to pay little by little. You can pay a billion every month until you complete it. We have no problem, you don’t have to make noise. Even the bible is clear, give to God what belongs to him and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” he said.
Mr Gachagua spoke in Mombasa as he officially closed the senator’s retreat yesterday.
The DP insisted that payment of taxes was non-negotiable, adding President William Ruto’s administration was keen on developing the country through its own resources and not borrowing.
“If you are in a hole don't continue digging. First, stop digging and figure out how to get out of the hole and one of the ways of getting out of the hole is through collecting tax from everyone, it doesn’t matter how far back we go, and stopping exemptions,” said the DP.
He added: “We have to borrow money and do development. And that money we were borrowing, the people who were in office were levying money from the government to their own banks at 12 to 14 per cent. This country was sinking into a hole that we would not get out of, so we stopped that borrowing. We are saying those who owe Kenya money must pay. They will pay and we will not be intimidated.”
At the same time, he assured Kenyans that the government will strengthen devolution, even as he urged the Council of Governors (CoG) to accept the Sh380 billion devolution funds, saying the state does not have enough money.
“CoG is asking for Sh425 billion, the Commission on Revenue Allocation says in its scheme of mathematics we can give Sh407 billion. However, the national government says we don't have the funds, we only have Sh380 billion which we will try to look for, we are not promising,” he said.
“If we succeed in increasing revenue from Sh2.2 to Sh3 trillion, we can give the governors their percentage. Senators, if the matter comes before you, look at the factors, look at what’s possible. what’s impossible and make fair decisions,” he said. “Don’t force us to give lies, if you force us to give them Sh500 billion it will be a lie.”
The DP further urged the Senate to support the national government by providing oversight for the counties. “Make them work and ensure the funds are used appropriately.”
Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir urged the DP to look into the urban counties with a view to funding them more since they are hard hit by poverty.
“Urban poverty hits hardest. Please look into the revenue-sharing formula,” he said.
Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo, who is also the Leader of the Minority in the Senate, urged the state to ensure timely disbursements of funds.
“Late disbursements affect developments and county services. That’s our only plea to boost devolution,” he said.