Follow the law in bid to raise taxes, Raila Odinga tells William Ruto

Raila to Ruto: Follow the law in bid to raise taxes

The government must involve Kenyans before introducing new taxation measures, Azimio La Umoja leaders have said.

ODM leader Raila Odinga, the coalition’s presidential candidate in the last general election, told President William Ruto to call for public participation before increasing taxes.

He accused the Head of State of trying to implement policies without going through the right legal channels such as seeking the approval of Parliament.

He said Dr Ruto had failed to consider the effect of the proposed taxes on Kenyans, whom he said are already overburdened.

“The decision to increase taxes needs public participation. There should be no taxation without representation,” said Mr Odinga, who argued that the decision should be placed before Parliament for MPs to approve before it is implemented.

Wiper party leader KalonzoMusyoka asked the Kenya Kwanza administration to implement its campaign promises, which included cushioning Kenyans from the high cost of essential commodities and famine, instead of increasing taxes.

President Ruto has asked the public to pay taxes as the government moves to ramp up revenue collection in its race to meet a Sh6 trillion collection target by 2027.

The government has, through the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), embarked on tax reform measures that could see every Kenyan above 18 years brought into the tax bracket.

He said higher tax collection would create a more independent country that relies on its own sources instead of external borrowing.

Dr Ruto said it is regrettable that only seven million people in Kenya are registered and have a KRA Personal Identification Number (PIN), and yet the mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa has more than 30 million users. “We need to pay taxes so that we can get resources for development projects and also be able to repay the debt that we have as a country,” he said.

The KRA records indicate that it collects about Sh1.88 trillion in taxes annually, which is slightly above half of what the Treasury budgets for expenditure every year.

The Azimio leaders were speaking during the funeral ceremony of Philomena Barasa, the mother of Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, at Muroni Primary School in Mumias East Sub-county.

They vowed to ensure that development projects reach every corner of the country irrespective of political affiliation and whom they voted for in the last election.

“Kenyans are paying taxes without considering political boundaries and need to get development in equal measure. They don’t have to kneel before anyone in order to be served, it is their democratic right. We will make things hard for the government if development is skewed,” said Mr Odinga.

He told Azimio supporters not to feel obliged to defer to the government to be considered for development projects, saying the Constitution has created two levels of power — national and county governments, which have equal rights to initiate development projects.

“Mr Ruto opposed the Constitution but we fought hard until it passed. Now they are threatening not to give development projects to those who opposed them. Who told you that you must be in government to get development? The two levels are complementary to each other,” he said.

He dismissed Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s attacks on him, saying he is not in his league.

“I will not respond to utterances by Mr Gachagua because he is too young. Siyo rika yangu (He is not of my age),” he said.

Mr Musyoka told Kenya Kwanza leaders to stop dragging the name of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga into their complaints and instead concentrate on fulfilling their campaign pledges.

He asked President Ruto and Mr Gachagua not to weaponise relief food for political mileage in preparation for the 2027 elections.

 “The trouble with Kenyans right now is conflict for water and pasture, food, and essential commodities. This is what the government leaders should be addressing instead of their unending expressions of their disappointment,” said Mr Musyoka.

The Wiper leader cautioned Azimio governors against falling into the Kenya Kwanza trap of supporting the government out of fear of missing out on development projects.

“If you have programmes that need to reach the people, such as like relief food and other support, invite Raila Odinga or Kalonzo Musyoka to flag them off as a sign of unity,” he said, adding that the opposition will keep the government in check to ensure Kenyans get the best services they deserve.

“When we correct them they should not think that we are witch-hunting them. We shall be playing our noble role to ensure they are doing things correctly,” he said.

Governors Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado) and James Orengo (Siaya), and former Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati accompanied Mr Odinga.

Governors Kennedy Lusaka (Bungoma) and Jonathan Bii (Uasin Gishu), who belong to the Kenya Kwanza alliance, condoled with Mr Barasa.