MPs to continue debating Finance Bill as Omtatah petition is certified urgent

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 5 Jun, 2023 15:44 | 2 mins read
Okiya Omtatah
Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/ Courtesy

The High Court has certified as urgent a petition filed by Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah and four activists seeking to lock the controversial Finance Bill 2023.

In a brief ruling, Justice Hedwig Ong'undi certified the matter saying the suit challenging the bill should be heard on a priority basis as it raises triable issues.

"Upon perusal of the petition, notice of motion and the certificate of urgency. I am satisfied that the matter is urgent and l certify it as such, " Justice Ong'undi stated.

She, however, did not bar the National Assembly from discussing and transmitting the impugned bill to President William Ruto for accession to become law.

The Judge directed Omtatah and his co-petitioners to serve the Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula, CS Treasury Njoronge Ndung'u and Attorney General Justin Muturi with the suit papers within three days.

Justice Ong'undi directed the state officials to respond to the lawsuit within seven days before June 19, 2023.

In the suit, Omtatah and the four activists Eliud Matindi, Michael Otieno, Benson Odiwuor Otieno and Blair Angima Oigoro have challenged the constitutionality of the financial bill which they say is being spearheaded by the President.

The petitioners say that the bill contains 30 sections which contravene the Constitution on taxation matters.

They also want the court to find that substantial questions of law have been raised in the suit and refer the case to Chief Justice Martha Koome to empanel a bench of an uneven number of judges to determine the case.

They argue that the disputed finance bill is illegal as the government is all out to irregularly tax Kenyans without justification.

Omtatah is urging the court to prohibit the speaker of the National Assembly from transmitting to the President the Finance Bill 2023 if it contains sections 28, 30, 33, 34, 36, 52, 56, 59, 73, 74, 76, 78 and 79 of the Finance Bill 2023.

Omtatah is asking the government to make public the national debt which he claims has been exaggerated by over Ksh3.7 trillion.

The senator says figures thrown in the public show the national debt is SKsh8.7 trillion.

"The actual debt must be made public for auditing otherwise Kenyans will be taxed to pay private dates," Omtatah stated at the Milimani High Court when he filed the case.

He claimed that monies borrowed overseas are stashed in private off-show accounts and now "Kenyans are being asked to pay those debts which financed non-existent development projects "

Omtata further protested the conduct of the President misusing the courts and the National Assembly to pass punitive laws which cannot be amended easily and become extinct after a decade.