‘The only solution left is maandamano’ – Babu Owino speaks on proposed taxes

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 16 May, 2024 09:19 | 3 mins read
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at a past function. PHOTO/@HEBabuOwino/X
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at a past function. PHOTO/@HEBabuOwino/X

Embakasi East Member of Parliament Babu Owino has urged citizens to take to the streets in protest against the government's proposed taxes particularly the taxation of bread.

Owino noted the burdensome nature of the tax increments in the Finance Bill 2024, which contribute to the already high cost of living for Kenyans.

He explained that such increases only serve to escalate expenses without a corresponding rise in the income of ordinary citizens.

The lawmaker drew an example from the French Revolution, where economic inequality and social injustice fueled widespread unrest.

He likened the proposed tax on bread to a symbol of oppression, referencing the infamous remark attributed to Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France, who purportedly suggested that if people couldn't afford bread, they should eat cake instead.

Babu suggested that President Ruto's stance echoes Marie Antoinette's sentiment.

"When it comes to the Finance Bill, you know very well that Kenyans are suffering because of the high cost of living and every year the increment of the taxes leads to an increment in expenditure without an increment in income in the pockets of common mwananchi. Right now the Kenya Kwanza government is introducing a tax on bread. We know the French Revolution, it was caused because of economic inequality and social injustice. When common mwananchi were demonstrating demanding that the cost of bread be lowered in France during the reign of King Louis XVI. The people said you must lower the cost of bread, the wife to the king, Marie Antonette came out boldly and said ' If you guys can't afford bread, eat cake' that is what Ruto is telling us, that if we can't afford bread, we eat cake. " Babu stated.

Babu noted that the only way to change the country is for mass demonstrations and refusing to negotiate with the government.

"His excellency Kalonzo said, this nation can only be changed if there are demonstrations, no negotiations."

Babu Owino's interview

During an interview with K24 TV on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, the lawmaker expressed opposition to the proposed taxation on a vital commodity, labeling it as insensitive and unjustified.

He argued that reintroducing a tax that existed three decades ago would spell disaster for the people of Kenya.

Additionally, the legislator condemned the policies of the president, asserting that they were leading the country astray and deliberately causing harm.

He criticized the government's stance on taxation, particularly highlighting the 16% tax proposed on bread, emphasizing that such a measure would severely burden Kenyans. He warned that if basic necessities like bread became unaffordable, it signaled a grave misdirection in governance, accusing President Ruto of intentionally sabotaging the nation's welfare.

Furthermore, the lawmaker denounced the 2.5% tax proposed on motor vehicles, deeming it unjust and unnecessary.

"The government is being unreasonable on the issues of the taxes, imposing 16 per cent tax on bread is a tax that was imposed 30 years ago, bringing this back is a complete disaster to Kenyans. If a Kenyan citizen cannot afford a simple thing as bread, then we are headed completely in the wrong direction and I can say that President Ruto is messing this country intentionally. It will reach a point where people will be tired. You cannot increase tax on bread, also, the 2.5 per cent tax on the motor vehicle is completely wrong and uncalled for," Babu said.

Finance Bill 2024

Babu Owino's sentiments come after the National Assembly Committee on Finance has called upon Kenyan citizens to share their perspectives on a newly introduced bill.

This bill, unveiled on May 9, 2024, was formally presented to parliament on May 13, 2024, by Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u.

The proposed legislation encompasses alterations to various tax laws, including the Income Tax Act, VAT regulations, Exercise Duty policies, and amendments to the Affordable Housing Act.

One notable provision within the Finance Bill 2024 is the proposal to increase excise duty rates on fees associated with money transfer services offered by banks, money transfer agencies, and other financial entities.

Additionally, the bill suggests implementing a 16 per cent VAT on previously zero-rated items like ordinary bread, which could lead to increased consumer costs.

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