Nairobi – In a potent display of public disapproval, over 90% of Kenyans have expressed strong opposition to the proposed 2023 Finance Bill, according to a recent study. This legislation, which outlines the government’s tax strategy for the fiscal year commencing in July, has sparked a nationwide outcry.
Twaweza and Centre for Fiscal Affairs (CFA) Survey
The study, conducted jointly by the civil society organizations Twaweza and Centre for Fiscal Affairs (CFA), found that an overwhelming 75.1% of respondents were deeply opposed to the Bill, with an additional 17.8% voicing general objections.
A scant 1.9% of the 25,966 Kenyan citizens who participated in the survey affirmed their full support for the controversial legislation. The survey, which was carried out between May 19 and June 6, saw 20% of its responses coming from Nairobi’s inhabitants.
These findings underscore a palpable unease among Kenyans with the disputed measures embedded in the Bill. Many respondents expressed a desire for the government to address systemic corruption and wasteful spending, rather than increasing the tax burden on ordinary citizens.
The report elaborates, “The Finance Bill, 2023 aims to bolster revenues through taxation, but it arrives at a time when Kenyans are struggling with a high cost of living and stagnating incomes.”
Survey participants voiced particular concern over specific elements of the Bill. An astounding 94% of respondents entirely rejected the proposition of doubling the Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel products from 8% to 16%. Meanwhile, 92.4% of respondents objected outright to the suggested 3% housing levy, which was later reduced to 1.5% by the National Assembly’s Finance Committee.
Similarly, 90% of respondents were decidedly against raising the excise tax on mobile money transfer services from 12% to 15%. Further opposition emerged towards the proposal to increase the turnover tax to 3% and to lower the Turnover Tax band threshold for businesses, capturing those with annual revenues as low as Sh500,000.
Interestingly, more than 38% of respondents expressed agreement with the proposal to include smaller businesses, those with daily revenues averaging Sh1,370, in the Turnover Tax band.
While the proposal is not included in the Finance Bill, 66% of respondents voiced opposition to the plan of setting standard National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions at 2.7% of salary. This resistance was rooted in accusations of corruption within the fund and persistently subpar services despite consistent citizen contributions.