Uhuru has his way on 8pc VAT on fuel in controversial vote by MPs
3 weeks ago, 00:00
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday got his way with a raft of new taxes in a chaotic session characterised by claims of underhand dealings and blackmail in Parliament.
The majority of MPs opposed to the eight per cent value added tax on petroleum products alongside others, were shrewdly defeated by denying the National Assembly the requisite two-thirds majority (233) required to override the President’s recommendations on the Finance Bill 2018.
The controversial vote meant besides the fuel tax, salaried workers will hand a fraction of their pay to the Government to finance a housing project, mobile phone users will incur additional duty and bank transfer costs as the Jubilee administration struggles to plug a budget hole created by rising expenditure and shrinking revenues.
From a walkout to scuttle any amendments and claims by one member that some of his colleagues had surrendered their electronic voting cards to further bring down the numbers, to others trooping to the toilet, it all pointed to a well-calculated scheme to ensure that the Government carried the day.
Leader of Majority Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart John Mbadi plotted a walkout from the chambers that effectively handed Uhuru a win on the basis of lack of quorum - triggering a fierce row that forced Speaker Justin Muturi to return to the chamber to restore order.
The chairperson presiding over the committee of the whole House, where members scrutinise a Bill, clause by clause, had lost control as the session became unruly. At one point, Mr Muturi called for a 15-minute break to review Hansard proceedings to enable him to make a ruling about the legality of the disputed vote that upheld the 8 per cent VAT on fuel.
The walkout by some of the MPs was preceded by a win by the legislators opposed to the tax after they outnumbered their proponents in a vote by acclamation.
Subsequently, all the tax measures were bulldozed against the protesting MPs, effectively dashing the hopes of Kenyans that the National Assembly would protect them from additional taxes.
The MPs who put up a spirited fight were rendered hapless when the Speaker ruled that they had failed to veto Uhuru’s reservation as they lacked the 233 required number, before proceeding to have all the other tax measures sail through.
“The No vote on that clause was lost on the basis that they did not have the required number,” said Muturi referring to the clause on eight per cent VAT on fuel.
There were 215 MPs in the House when a headcount was conducted, effectively handing Uhuru a win over the fuel levy that is expected to trigger a higher cost of living.
But the decision was wildly resisted by the “No” camp, disrupting the session for close to one hour.
All this while, Mr Mbadi, Minority Whip Junet Mohammed, Peris Tobiko, (Kajiado East) and James Gakuya (Embakasi North) among other MPs who walked out, followed the chaotic proceedings from TV screens mounted in the corridors of Parliament.
Some of the MPs who ...
Category: business news