In a flurry of discussions on Twitter, the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2023 has gained traction as Kenyans express their concerns over the proposed tax changes in Kenya’s Finance Bill 2023. Presented before the National Assembly by the National Treasury, the bill aims to expand the tax base and generate revenue to meet the ambitious budget of KES 3.6 trillion for 2023/2024. However, several provisions have drawn widespread criticism.
Among the notable changes is the introduction of an export and investment promotion levy on specified imports, a 35% tax rate for income above Kes 500,000 per month, a 3% contribution by employees and employers for affordable housing projects, the exemption of exported services from VAT, an increase in the turnover tax from 1% to 3%, and a hike in the VAT rate on petroleum products from 8% to 16%.
Critics argue that the bill disproportionately affects the average Kenyan, placing a burden on already struggling citizens. Twitter user @D_M_Wangui sarcastically quotes a fictional character, highlighting the belief that mortgages are far from a luxury. The sentiment is echoed by @Swaleh_oyawo, who emphasizes the need for healthcare, food, and justice for the vulnerable populations.
Political divisions also emerge, with @magwaz3 suggesting that the government perpetuates the division between the rich and the poor, referring to the previously coined “Hustlers vs Dynasties” narrative and now the “salaried vs unsalaried” dynamic. They urge Kenyans to see through the political rhetoric. Another tweet by @magwaz3 calls for the disclosure of MPs supporting the bill, suggesting that voters should remember their lack of understanding of the burdens faced by ordinary citizens in the next elections.
Former President Kenyatta’s housing projects are invoked by @Rosengeri, who questions President Ruto’s promises and accuses him of empty rhetoric. Meanwhile, @MigunaMiguna offers unsolicited advice to President Ruto and his deputy, urging them to listen to the people, withdraw the bill, and address issues such as high living costs, corruption, and tribalism. The tweet emphasizes the need for fresh faces, independent advisors, and transparent engagement with Kenyans.
As the discussions rage on Twitter, it remains to be seen how the Finance Bill 2023 will fare and what impact it will have on the government’s relations with its citizens. The bill faces potential legal challenges, raising questions about its future implementation. In the midst of the ongoing debate, Kenyans continue to voice their concerns, demanding a fair and equitable tax policy that addresses the needs and well-being of all citizens.