Kenyan Government Faces Backlash Over Proposed Tax Reforms

The Kenyan government is facing widespread criticism as it unveils plans to introduce new and heightened taxes through a proposed law, sparking uproar across the country.

One of the major points of contention is the proposal to remove bread, a key consumer staple, from the list of zero-rated supplies, potentially leading to an increase in its price as it loses its value-added tax (VAT) exemption status.

Additionally, the cost of mobile money transfers, airtime, and data is expected to rise as the government aims to generate an additional $2.4 billion (£2 billion) in taxes for the upcoming financial year starting in July.

Outlined in the 2024 Finance Bill published recently, another significant measure is the introduction of a new motor vehicle tax, potentially burdening motorists with annual fees of up to $750 to keep their vehicles on the road.

These tax reforms are part of a broader financial strategy implemented by President William Ruto’s administration to finance extensive infrastructure and social programs. However, the move has drawn sharp criticism from politicians and human rights activists, who deem it as overly burdensome.

Opposition voices have threatened to organize protests nationwide if the government proceeds with the implementation of these new tax measures. This backlash mirrors the resistance witnessed last year when the government introduced several taxes, including the controversial housing levy, despite widespread objections from some segments of the Kenyan population.

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