Opposition vows to shoot down budget


An activist is arrested while running towards Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u and other officials outside Treasury House in Nairobi on June 13,2024.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Opposition MPs did not have kind words for the budget proposals.
  • Some Kenya Kwanza MPs who followed the proceedings declined to comment. 

A majority of opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya MPs kept off the National Assembly as Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u read the Sh3.9 trillion budget highlights and revenue-raising measures for the 2024/25 financial year.

The few who attended, including Leader of Minority Opiyo Wandayi and Homa Bay Woman Representative Joyce Atieno Osogo, did not have kind words for the budget proposals.

Some ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition lawmakers who followed the proceedings in the chamber declined to comment. 

Unlike previous budget highlights, this year’s was marked by low attendance. Many MPs were on the corridors of parliament, others took tea while many left soon after Prof Ndung’u started delivering the speech.

Mr Wandayi accused the government of punishing Kenyans by taking unnecessary loans and imposing punitive taxes.

“We fail to live within our means, courtesy of the many roadside pronouncements. Budget deficits will kill us. The performance of this government is worse than the previous regime,” the Ugunja MP said.

“We thought the government would put more focus on productive areas like agriculture, the service industry and tourism.”

National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Nelson Koech said the revenue raising measures are balanced and would meet the needs of poor Kenyans and the country’s development agenda.

“As the MP for Belgut who represents tea farmers, I am happy to note that Treasury has done away with taxes on packaging materials,” he said.

“This will make our tea more competitive and cheaper to export. The tax on packaging materials was going to affect farmers’ earnings.”

Ms Osogo accused the government of burdening ordinary citizens with taxes.

“You can’t be piling more taxes on citizens when the country is in debt. I will oppose the Finance Bill, 2024,” she said. 

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria praised the tax measures, saying the government has reduced the budget deficit in the last two years.

“We have to take painful decisions, including freezing employment and increasing taxes. We are on the right track to attaining a balanced budget. Soon we will be financing budgets through own resources,” Mr Kuria said.

Kasarani MP Ronald Karauri said the tax projections may not be realistic.

According to the first-term MP, the revenue raising measures may not realise much.

“I do not trust the measures as they have not widened the tax base,” the lawmaker said.

Sirisia MP John Waluke criticised those doubting the measures, saying the government can meet the targets set.

“It is also a fact that we have been servicing expensive loans but there is hope,” Mr Waluke said.

Mr Waluke’s Emurua Dikirr colleague Johana Ngeno said the budget would ensure student hostels are built, adding that it has been a big challenge to public universities. 

“I am happy the money suggested during the public participation forums has been allocated,” the National Assembly Housing Committee Chairman said.

Mr Wandayi said there is nothing new in the proposals.

“Because of similar budgets, the government has struggled to raise money. The proposed taxes are punitive,” Mr Wandayi said.

“This is why the Finance Bill, 2024 is unpopular. Azimio has instructed its MPs to turn up for the debate and shoot it down.”

He added that opposition lawmakers would reject the punitive provisions in the bill if the National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee chaired by Molo MP Kuria Kimani fails to take into account submissions from stakeholders and ordinary Kenyans.

“If the report doesn’t take into account the feelings of Kenyans, Azimio will mobilise our members to shoot it down,” he said.

“We have instructed our MPs not to fly out of the country next week. Even sick ones will come and vote. We are talking to Kenya Kwanza MPs opposed to this bill.”