Government making life harder for Kenyans
03 December 2015, 15:40
Nairobi - Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) wants the government to stop implementation of the new tax regime that will see taxes on bottled water, juice, beer and other commodities go up.
Cotu Deputy Secretary General, Benson Okwaro faulted the government for starting the implementation of Excise Duty Act 2015 without factoring in the implication it will have on poor Kenyan workers.
Speaking Thursday at Cotu headquarters in Nairobi, Okwaro said the new tax regime will have serious negative effects on economic growth and development as well as the overall welfare of the public in general.
"Kenyans who are already bearing the burden of paying heavy taxes will be forced to pay higher prices for goods and services. It will further increase the cost of living as workers will be forced to spend more of their income to purchase items," explained Okwaro, who was accompanied by Cotu board members Albert Njeru and Gilbert Omolo.
Read Also: New Excise Duty Act will oppress ordinary citizens
"The government must stop implementation of Excise Duty Act 2015 as a matter of urgency until the contentious areas touching on basic commodities are amended," he added.
The controversial Excise Duty Act 2015 was published in the Kenya gazzete on November 27, marking its official enactment.
Tax on bottled water, fruit juices, soft drinks and vegetable juices will go up to KES 10 from KES 3 per litre.
Lovers of the brown bottle will be forced to dig deeper into their pocket as the levy on beer has been increased to a flat rate of KES 100 per litre from KES 70 per litre.
The Cotu official observed that most Kenyans expected the Jubilee government to protect them as enshrined in the constitution, but the administration has gone against their wish by making life even harder.
Okwaro observed that it is wrong for the government to resort to higher taxation on select items as a means of raising revenue, when the hefty taxes levied on the public are looted through corruption.
"All that the needs to be done is to seal the loopholes through which public resources get lost. Government officials accused of graft should be forced to refund the money to the state," he said.
"High excise taxes are likely to put off investors in the country. Local companies may be either forced to close shop or massively retrench workers causing job losses," noted Okwaro.
According to the unionist, the giant workers union body will next week hold a board meeting to deliberate on the actions they will take, if the government does not heed to their demand.
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