ODM leader Raila Odinga has unveiled his plan for growing local investments, trashing Deputy President William Ruto’s ‘bottom-up’ plan as ineffectual.

In a conversation that has elicited a heated debate in the wake of contestations by the DPs’ side, Raila says he’d work to cut businessmen the slack of repressive taxes.

The ODM leader, who has kept giving signals he’d be on the race, said he’d work to reverse some of the tax policies that are currently chocking businesses in the country.

Raila in a meeting with businessmen from Kiambu at businessman Nginyo Kariuki’s home on Thursday decried the many regulations and bureaucracies businesses are presently subjected to.

“We will change the way business is done in this country. We will start by promoting and protecting local investments,” he said.

Raila, who was accompanied by former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, said his team has “a bigger agenda” on how to improve business in the country which is unmatched by Ruto’s bottom-up approach.

“We have a bigger plan than someone coming up and telling us that mama mboga…mtu mdogo…we have a bigger issue which we will talk about at another time.”

The former Prime Minister said the ideal situation would be where the government slices taxes from gross earnings by businesses.

“Businesses are currently charged punitive taxes. We will ensure taxes are paid before the net and create incentives for the people to do business,” Raila quipped.

He also said his team would work on an equitable tax approach for both the rich and poor, saying the current situation disadvantages the poor a great deal.

Kenyans have decried high taxation under the jubilee administration, with most of the charges to raise revenue targeting low-income households.

MPs in June voted to charge duty on items like cooking gas, digital transactions, airtime, as well as items bought via electronic commerce.

The former PM said he plans to grow local investments citing the benefits that wananchi stand to accrue from the multiplier effect of local capital.

“Foreign investors do not come into a country to develop it. They come to put their capital and make profits which they repatriate back to their countries to pay dividends to their shareholders,” he said.

Manufacturers last week faulted nine taxes and levies that were introduced in the Finance Bill, 2021 saying they were hurting the sector.

Among the punitive taxes are the 10 per cent excise tax on articles of plastics, 10 per cent excise duty on imported resins, and 10 per cent duty on materials used for the manufacture of baby diapers.

Also troubling is the Sh200 per kilo tax on locally produced chocolate, excise duty on imported fertilized eggs, 16 per cent VAT on clean cooking stoves, and the 16 per cent VAT on LPG.

Limit interest, in the new dispensation, is to be deducted to a maximum of 30 per cent of earnings before interest, depreciation, and write-offs.

Kenya Association of Manufacturing decried the lack of public participation on some of the tax provisions that were introduced in the current financial year.

“This move has denied affected taxpayers an opportunity to interrogate the impact of these measures on the cost of living and cost of doing business,” KAM chairman Mucai Kunyiha said.

In its assessment, KAM says the taxes have adversely affected infant industries in the food and beverage, dairy, distribution, and retail sectors as well as the consumers.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi is among leaders who have spoken on the taxation issue, promising to deal with the same if elected to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He pledged to negotiate better taxation terms for micro-small and medium enterprises and urged the group to approach his office on how to go about the tax woes.

Even so, Raila, in what is panning out as a new approach to 2022 politics, has been speaking to topical issues affecting Kenyans.

The ODM leader has spoken to matters of health, rural enterprises and local industries, improved civil service, better governance, and tackling corruption.

On the growth of rural areas, he said they should be developed alongside cities to reduce rural-urban migration.

For the civil service, Raila vouched for a rewards system for hardworking public servants and consequences for those who don’t meet the mark.

The ODM leader has also fronted proposals for a compulsory health insurance scheme for the employed and unemployed.

“We must ensure that this health insurance scheme gives the government primary responsibility to pay for the extreme poor in rural and urban areas,” he said.

Courtesy The Star

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