President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially signed the Finance Bill 2018 into law after it was passed in parliament on Thursday evening. A riveting debate was witnessed in the House a stey discussed the 8% fuel VAT with allegations of foul play and accusing fingers dominating. On Friday, the President gave his commitment to ensuring proper utilisation of public resources for a better Kenya, “I will not relent on the war against corruption.” Leaders present during the signing included Deputy President William Ruto, Speaker Justin Muturi, Majority Leader Aden Duale among others.
As a result of this, not only will Kenyans brace for the fuel tax, but other areas including money transfers will be affected. Kenyans may have to pay more for airtime and data as excise duty on data will be increased from 10% to 15%. The excise duty on cash transfers will rise to 20% up from the current 12%. Another proposal in the memorandum dealt with the National Housing Development Fund, where workers will contribute 1.5% to the Fund as Housing levy, with the money set aside for one of the key government agendas, affordable housing.
During the polarising parliament session, the MPs opposed to the President’s proposal to have the VAT reduced to 8% couldn’t be convinced to support the notion, with calls for the VAT to be totally scrapped persisting throughout the session. However, the push to shoot it down didn’t pick as the opposing members of parliament failed to raise the required quorum to quash it. The required number of MPs needed to veto the memorandum should be a 2/3 representation-233 of the 349 MPs-but there was a walk-out during the heated debate, and only 215 MPs remained in the House after a head count was ordered by Narok woman representative Soipan Tuya who was chairing the session. Speaker Justin Muturi referring to the Hansard concluded that indeed the number wasn’t enough to shoot it down after admitting to a faulty first voting round, and maintained the decision to pass the clause in consideration.