The Majority Leader in the National Assembly Kimani Ichungw’a has committed to subjecting the proposed finance bill to thorough public scrutiny before it’s tabled in the house for enactment into law.
Kimani Ichungw’a said parliament has received tens of petitions, and memorandums on the proposed bill that seeks to address various particulars which the delegated committee will look into.
The finance bill that is before parliament has proposed several tax measures including the controversial three percent housing fund contribution for civil servants to fund the government’s affordable housing agenda.
The bill which also proposes the harmonization of the Value Added Tax on fuel from the current eight percent to 16 percent has equally received criticisms from a section of Kenyans who fear that the love will increase the cost of living.
But while addressing participants during the 3rd Annual National Parliamentary Symposium in Naivasha, Ichungw’a said the public views and sentiments will be considered before the bill is enacted into law.
Ichung’wa termed public participation as a key element of the constitution in ensuring citizens are involved in the budget-making process that seeks to address how the country’s taxes will be spent.
He said the country has been lauded for entrenching public participation as a key constitutional pillar in the legislative process, budget making, vetting, and other government-led decisions making.
The proposed taxes in the bill have received cold waters with the opposition lawmakers threatening to shoot down the bill in parliament noting that the taxes will put more burden on Kenyans.
His sentiments were echoed by former Makueni Governor Kibutha Kibwana who termed as crucial the involvement of citizens in decisions making of how their taxes will be used.
Prof. Kibwana said failure to adequately involved citizens through public participation has seen passed laws being annulled by the courts.
He called on lawmakers, and policy experts to enhance the proposed public participation bill that seeks to address gaps and entrench a standard culture of citizen-centric development agendas.
Kibwana said public participation should meet the quantity and quality of ideas and contributions as well as create more avenues that allow citizens to be at the center of governance.
“The era of imposing decisions and muzzling citizens’ rights and voices must come to an end for democracy to take its course”, said Kibwana.
By Erastus Gichohi