Focus on Parliament as house meets to discuss President Kenyatta’s proposal on Finance Bill

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All eyes will be on the National Assembly on today as Members of Parliament meet to discuss President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision not to assent to the Finance Bill 2018.

President Kenyatta on Friday last week turned down the Finance Bill and returned it to parliament with a memorandum recommending the Assembly cut the value added tax (VAT) on fuel from 16 per cent to 8 per cent.

Members of the National Assembly had initially called for the delay in implementation of the VAT tax to 2020 but the Bill did not take effect following President Uhuru’s failure to approve it.

Before the President made his decision, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich ensured that the 16 per cent tax on fuel was implemented on September 1, 2018, a decision that sparked public uproar all over the country.

The special seating in parliament is expected to address the issue but MPs under the Jubilee and National Super Alliance (NASA) tickets have expressed opposing ideas on the matter.

NASA has already rejected the President’s decision with members of the party calling for the complete dismissal of the  fuel tax. On the other hand, MPs under the Jubilee party have conveyed mixed reactions in regards to the Presidents’ amendment of the Finance Bill 2018. This has seemingly set the stage for a clash between the legislators in Parliament.

As such, prior to the meeting, MPs under Jubilee and NASA are expected to hold different talks at State House and County Hall respectively to take a common position on the President’s proposals. The MPs are at crossroads on whether to back the President’s position or oppose it entirely in favor of the plight of Kenyans.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and the house’s Minority Leader John Mbadi have since confirmed that the two meetings will take place and members from both camps are expected to attend without fail.

Speaking in his office on Monday evening, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo urged his colleagues in the National Assembly to disregard President Kenyatta’s proposals. Approving it according to Mr Orengo, would only make the National Assembly a ‘tool’ of the executive.

“MPs should not rally themselves around any particular party positions. They should rally around their constitutional calling. If they pass it despite the fact that they had earlier suspended the proposals it would mean that Parliament is just an extension of the Executive,” said Orengo.

Jubilee and its affiliate parties have 213 MPs in Parliament while NASA has 136 lawmakers. Out of the 349 MPs, two thirds or at least 233 members are required to overturn President Kenyatta’s proposals which would consequently suspend the initial Finance Bill 2018 for two years until 2020.

The International Monetary Fund has been compelling Kenya to increase its income base and stop relying on foreign aid to run the country and the 16 per cent tax on fuel was seen as one of the ways to do so without adding to the country’s debt of Sh5 trillion.

 

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