Azimio Raises 4 Concerns in 2024 Budget Policy Statement

Raila Odinga speaking while accompanied by Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua and other Azimio leaders on Wednesday May 24, 2023
Raila Odinga addresses the media accompanied by Azimio co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
Raila Odinga

Azimio coalition, on Thursday, poked holes into the government’s 2024 Budget Policy Statement published by the Treasury.

According to the Treasury, the policy measures were drafted to improve economy-wide efficiencies, create an enabling environment that supports growth in businesses and reduce the cost of living. 

However, Azimio, while terming the statement as flawed and unachievable, warned Kenyans to brace for double taxation. 

While insisting on their claims, Azimio alleged the government was out to double tax every adult in excess of Ksh27,000.

Azimio la Umoja Leaders
Azimio la Umoja leaders led by Raila Odinga (Centre) during a Press Conference at SKM Centre in Nairobi on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Azimio la Umoja

"If the BPS is anything to go by, Kenyans must be ready to tighten their belts because the Kenya Kwanza regime is coming after them in a second wave of taxes," Azimio warned.

"To the ordinary Kenyans, the Mama mboga, Boda-Boda riders, and the people of Mjengo, the regime is coming again with a double taxation plan with increased taxes of approximately Ksh27,000 per adult Kenyan," Azimio stated adding that the taxes were spread across different sectors. 

One of the sectors is education where parents were cautioned to prepare for hiked school fees as the BPS proposed Value Added Tax (VAT) on educational services, especially extra-curricular activities. Last year, the Treasury warned that VAT exemption on education that includes all services provided by schools creates unfairness.

"Some services like swimming when offered out of school are vatable. To remove this discrimination, there is a need to impose VAT on the additional benefits. In this respect, the government will explore the introduction of VAT on services provided by schools but not directly related to education," Treasury stated. 

Azimio further accused the government of coming up with inflated, questionable and imaginary budgetary figures without clear measures of how it would raise the funds.

"A cursory look at the Budget Policy Statement, 2024 indicates that will kill the middle class and when the middle class is dead, they will hurt millions of our people," Raila's camp stated.

Meanwhile, the coalition also admonished the Housing Levy bill which is meant to finance the Affordable Housing Program. Azimio termed it as unfair, discriminatory, and unconstitutional.

Raila's team urged Kenyans to put on notice the Members of Parliament who betrayed their wishes by voting for the bill that passed its third reading on Wednesday. Ironically, some of Azimio MPs who opposed the bill in public skipped a crucial Parliament session on Tuesday where 141 lawmakers cast their ballot in favour of the bill against 58.

The bill proceeded to the third reading on Wednesday but was disrupted by Azimio's theatrics as its MPs walked out of the House. They further threatened to proceed to court to counter the controversial housing levy bill or resort to street protests to pile pressure on Ruto. Nonetheless, the bill proceeded to the Senate for concurrence. 

President William Ruto addressing government officials during the second government retreat on February 21, 2024
President William Ruto addressing government officials during the second government retreat on February 21, 2024

"As the Affordable Housing Levy Bill, 2023 moves to the Senate, we once again ask the Senators from across the political divide to be patriotic and reject this Bill," Azimio remarked.

While commenting on the exchange rate of the local currency against the dollar, Raila's team alleged artificial manipulation of the shilling, citing it as an unsustainable move by Kenya Kwanza.

According to Azimio, despite the government's futile efforts to stabilise the shilling, it was still fluctuating around Ksh150 to the greenback.

"The free fall of the shilling is, therefore, a grand betrayal of the people of Kenya by the Kenya Kwanza regime. A perfect example of a race to the bottom by the regime," the coalition stated.

The government was also put on the spot over reckless borrowing, with Azimio further accusing the Kenya Kwanza administration of increasing its spending by over Ksh400 billion. 

Despite several warnings of debt distress and risk of debt default, Ruto's administration went ahead to borrow at the astronomical rate of 22 per cent from the domestic market.

"The regime went against its promise to reduce borrowing and did the complete opposite today KK regime has borrowed close to Ksh2 Trillion in just one and half years," Azimio claimed.

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