BY JAMES MUTUA
The Okoa Uchumi Coalition on Friday joined citizens in Nairobi to give their views on the Budget Policy
Statement and Finance Bill 2023. The multistakeholder dialogue meeting which convened over 100 participants was aimed to dissect the current finance bill
enactment by Parliament and the extent of public participation in the process, as part of the wider budget making process in Kenya.
This was in response to the call for public participation and submission of memoranda. The Coalition reviewed the proposed tax amendments and did a joint
submission of their proposals giving alternative recommendations backed by reliable figures that had been simulated from reliable models and sources.
Earlier, the Okoa Uchumi campaign had made oral submissions to the Departmental Commitee on Finance and
National Planning of the National Assembly, and urged Members of Parliament to support the course once tabled in parliament.
In its submission, the coalition said that the finance Bill 2023 risks bleeding Kenyans dry through the aggressive taxation measures that it had adopted. It stated that the proposed taxation measures were injurious to the Kenyan population while the effects of imprudent fiscal management had dire consequences on the incomes and quality of living to the majority of the households.
Okoa Uchumi campaigners cited that past actions by the government had enabled graft and misappropriation of tax revenue and were now affecting Kenyans who were struggling with access to essential services and reduced income due to inflation and the high cost of personal goods and public services.
On justification as to why Okoa Uchumi campaigners were opposing tax increments, they said that there was a clear demonstration on why the policy
alternatives which were being proposed by the campaign were viable and atainable in the short run to
provide the needed revenues to finance public services by the government. They urged the Parliament to reject proposals that sought to overtax the employed population and informal sectors, and
instead, focus on enforcing accountability measures of the current tax regulations, including compliance measures needed to avoid loss of revenue.
Currently, Kenya is in an economic crisis and the government, through the National treasury, has put together an expansionary national budget for the 2023/2024 financial year totaling Ksh 3.6
trillion with a projected deficit of Ksh 768 billion.
Okoa Uchumi campaign is a civil society initiative commited to the goal of accountability in Kenya’s public debt management spearheaded by The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA).