Punda amechoka! Atwoli calls on MPs to cease extra taxes on Kenyans
Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) secretary Francis Atwoli has voiced his reservation on a proposed bill aimed at increasing tax deductions for workers.
Speaking in Kakamega county, the combative unionist urged lawmakers to reconsider their stance on the proposed measure, dubbed the Unemployment Insurance Authority Bill.
The bill, proposed by Ikolomani lawmaker Bernard Shinali, seeks to, among others, impose taxes on workers and provide suspended employees with continued salary support.
Atwoli emphasized the financial strain many workers are currently facing due to high government taxes.
He argued that additional tax hikes would leave many informal laborers with meager earnings.
“I kindly request Shinali to reconsider any plans related to the employment levy, as it is significantly impacting people’s income. Our payslips are already heavily burdened, and we have very little left,” he expressed.
“At this stage, if we haven’t achieved economic stability as a nation, we should avoid adding further financial burdens on Kenyans. Kenya Kwanza is working on strategies to stimulate economic growth, but let’s not burden our citizens in the process.”
Atwoli’s remarks come amidst the government’s recent implementation of various VAT increases outlined in the Finance Act 2023.
Notably, a contentious measure mandates that formal sector workers in Kenya make a 3% monthly contribution to the Housing Fund.
The new tax package was approved by parliament and will double the tax on fuel to 16 percent and introduce a new housing levy, a move expected to have a ripple effect in a country hamstrung by high inflation.
Kenyans will also have to pay more for the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) deductions.
Dr Ruto, who took office in September 2022 after a bitterly fought election, is seeking to refill the government’s depleted coffers and repair a heavily indebted economy inherited from his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, who splurged on major infrastructure projects.