May 8, 2023 — Raila Odinga, a prominent opposition leader in Kenya, has sharply criticized the government’s proposal to impose taxes on beauty products and social media influencers. Odinga accused President Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza party of targeting the livelihoods of hardworking Kenyans in the bustling beauty industry.
Odinga expressed his disapproval of the proposed taxes, saying, “Taxing beauty products is wrong. They seek to tax the beauty of our youth and women. The beauty industry provides employment for many, and Kenya Kwanza is determined to undermine their income.” He pledged that the Azimio La Umoja coalition’s Members of Parliament would oppose the proposals outlined in the Finance Bill 2023.
“We intend to make it unequivocally clear that as a party, we will do everything in our power to prevent this anti-people budget from passing in the National Assembly. Should Kenya Kwanza force the Bill through using its majority, the people of Kenya must know that it is Kenya Kwanza’s Bill, Kenya Kwanza’s budget, and Kenya Kwanza will be responsible for burdening Kenyans. Our MPs will be instructed to disassociate themselves from it,” Odinga added.
As previously reported by Nairobi News, the Kenya Kwanza government’s Finance Bill 2023 includes proposals to tax various goods within the Sh 100 billion beauty industry in Kenya. The government has suggested imposing an Excise Duty tax of 5% on human hair products, wigs, false facial hair, and other related products, as well as a 5% tax on artificial nails.
In June 2022, the Kenyan beauty industry was estimated to be worth Sh 100 billion, with an impressive growth rate of 400% per year. Major international companies, such as Fenty and L’Oreal, have established a presence in the Kenyan market. The debate over taxing cosmetics and wigs began when a Member of Parliament proposed taxing these items to encourage women to embrace their natural beauty. He also argued that the tax revenue could fund the provision of free menstrual products for women, claiming it was the only viable method for the government to support such a program.