Pay your taxes, William Ruto urged Kenyans today while at a prayer meeting in Kitui county. My first question to the president is how much tax did you pay in 2021, the last financial year? How much tax did your billionaire Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua return for the same period?
It should be made public immediately and of course, there are document records for tax payment which both of them should. You want mama mbogas to pay taxes, fine, but how about you and your billions?
Ruto told Kenyans he makes Shs 1.5 million every day selling chicken eggs alone. Where is the tax on that? Where is the tax on Weston Hotel? Where is your damn tax payment record, Mr. President? Kenyans need to see that right now and you should provide it every year.
The reason we have problems paying our debts is that the super-rich in Kenya who are mainly politicians never ever pay taxes. They are not just above the law for stealing public money they are also above the law to never pay any taxes. And Ruto says he needs the tax money to help pay Kenya’s public debt.
And going by your own words, Mr. President that should be very helpful to the country. Speaking on Sunday when he attended a thanksgiving prayer service at the African Inland Church, Kitui Township, the president said paying taxes will help Kenya grow and be an independent nation.
“We want to have medicines in hospitals, and work on our economy but we cannot do all that if taxes are not paid,” he said.
“The only way we can be an independent nation is when we can support our developments with our own resources.”
Ruto said people with large-scale businesses that evade paying taxes will be dealt with to make sure all Kenyans pay the debt for the good of the country.
“We do not want our country to always be in debt because that will make us slaves to our debtors.”
He added that the government is focused on financing development projects using taxes, saying the government is currently paying more than Sh1 trillion to service loans.
“We must stop the tendency of borrowing from other countries and start looking for our own revenue. It’s possible by increasing our tax collections from the current Sh2 trillion,” he said.
“I will lead from the front to ensure that Kenya is removed from the current debt status.”
Yes, Mr. President, you need to lead from the front by paying your own taxes.
I am also sending an open letter to MP Opiyo Wandayi the opposition leader helping with the vetting questions on Ruto’s billionaire cabinet candidates to send a notice to all the cabinet nominees to provide parliament with a record of the tax payments starting with 2021 and if necessary expand it when there are lingering questions.
If you are Mudavadi and you are worth Shs. 4 billion in assets and business investments how many billions or millions did you pay in taxes last financial year?
Every one of the candidates comes to parliament and the first thing they say is how much hundreds of millions or billions they have in assets and businesses they own. The second statement following that declaration has to be how much tax each one of them paid in those lucrative businesses they own.
I am also writing to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)) to write to the president, parliament, the AG, and the Chief Justice demanding that Ruto and his entire cabinet declare and provide records of their tax payment as part of the process to ensure that they meet the demands of Chapter Six of our constitution in integrity.
This has to be taken very seriously. People coming to take cabinet positions are laughing at Kenyans telling us how rich they are and they actually say they own rental buildings all over the country, they own farms and they run all sorts of businesses.
If you have all that and you are not paying your taxes, you are robbing the country and cannot possibly pass Chapter Six of our Katiba. It is very simple stuff. If you are paying your taxes Kenyans will love you. If you are not paying your taxes that wealth has to be taken to cover your taxes and you are in no position to be in leadership in our country. Common sense. Right?
There has been a lot of problems on how to implement Chapter Six on Integrity. I think the tax issue can fit there very well when having billionaires and trillionaires trying to run our government. Getting how much tax they have paid on the humongous wealth they own is a starting point and it is easy to prove because of the records with Kenya Revenue Authority and there will be no witch hunting here.
Let’s get it done. Also, let’s see who wants to hide from such a basic requirement and still wants to lead our country.
In fact, if Ruto wanted to be taken seriously as the president he would be the first one to announce that he and his entire cabinet will provide information about their taxes to Kenyans so they can start on a clean sheet. The ball is in his court now and he doesn’t need a prayer day for that. Just call the KRA and give us the data on how much tax you and your buddies paid in 2021. Will you?
Kenyans are suffering from an economic meltdown because our rich people who are mostly politicians and their friends do not even know what tax is. They have no idea what the tax rate is because their businesses don’t pay it.
When William Ruto gets his Shs. 1.5 million a day from egg sales he doesn’t pay a penny in taxes. It all goes to his bank account. It is the same for all of them and they wonder why the country is broke and struggling with Shs. 1 trillion interest on debt a year. It is precisely because we have thieves and criminals running our government and the whole country is their personal kiosk to exploit.
Together with the civil society groups, Opposition parties should take the issue of taxes to the courts and all the way to the Supreme Court to demand a ruling that individual tax records or lack thereof should be factored into the Chapter Six Integrity requirement for public leadership in Kenya.
This is a provable authentic issue as opposed to ‘OK I have been convicted of this and that but I am appealing the case.’
Let’s take something real that affects the lives of all Kenyans. And we are taking it from the president himself. He is demanding that all Kenyans should pay their taxes. Kenyans are telling him he has to do the same and so should his cabinet. We want to see proof of that in writing from the KRA.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada