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Atwoli faults government’s plan to snoop Kenyans’ mobile money transactions

The Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has criticised the government’s planned move seeking to snoop on Kenyans’ mobile money transactions.

This comes after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) proposed to monitor mobile money transactions by integrating the KRA tax system with M-Pesa to reduce tax evasion.

According to the 2023 Budget Policy Statement released on Wednesday for the 2023/24 fiscal year, the government is seeking access to individual and companies’ mobile money transaction records in a move that is intended to open a new front in the fight against tax cheats.

In reaction to the proposed move Mr Atwoli on Friday advised President William Ruto not to hurt Kenyans in their mission to collect enough taxes.

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Mr Atwoli said the move by the government to have access to mobile money transactions as outlined in the 2023 Budget Policy Statement is ill-advised and counterproductive.

He stated that a majority of users of mobile banking are hustlers and the poor who overwhelmingly voted for this government.

According to Atwoli, the move will make Kenyans avoid using mobile money platforms and as a result, destroy a great innovation that has since helped ease the movement of money, especially from the urban to rural areas.

“Very soon, Kenyans will start avoiding mobile money platforms and maybe, start using other platforms to send money like courier and parcel services,” Mr Atwoli said.

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The Cotu boss said the move could have a similar effect to the move by the US government in the 1920s, through the 1920 Volstead Act that prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcohol in an attempt to make America more peaceful.

He has rather asked the government to crackdown on outsourcing companies whilst formalizing many jobs in the informal sector.

“Rather than monitoring and investigating M-Pesa, the government should ensure that the more than the 5,000 outsourcing companies regularize the employment terms and conditions of work for their employees by ensuring that they pay all the statutory deductions including PAYE, NSSF, NHIF among others.”

Further, Mr Atwoli has asked the administration of President Ruto to work with other partners in the labour sector and ensure the formalization of many jobs in the informal sector to ensure the government gets its fair share of revenue.

“It is possible to collect taxes even from mama mboga if the government becomes innovative and uses incentives.”

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