Ruto Fuel Tax on Kenyans Will Fuel Disaster for Everybody

13 mins read

If William Ruto could impose tax on oxygen so that every time a Kenyan breathes he or she pays oxygen tax to help him collect money every minute, he would do that in a hurry. Too bad there is no mechanism for Ruto to capture oxygen and sell it with tax to Kenyans.

Instead, Ruto did the next best thing for his tax to pin Kenyans down as he wishes. William Ruto is increasing the VAT on petroleum products by 8% and that will double the tax to 16% on all fuel Kenyans use.

That is an 8% tax increase on each and every Kenyan because everybody buys products produced using petroleum products and or transported by the same. In fact, even boda-boda rides are going up by at least 8% because they have to use fuel. So this is a Ruto tax on everybody in the country.

The DN makes it very clear what Kenyans are facing. Starting July 1, Kenyans have been warned to brace for higher living costs should a proposal in the Finance Bill 2023 to subject petroleum products to 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT), up from the current eight percent, be implemented.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah and Budget Committee Chairman Ndindi Nyoro will be tasked to champion the Bill in the House, essentially whipping ruling coalition members to pass the unpopular law they vehemently opposed in 2021.

Mudavadi in a demo against 16% VAT on July 3, 2021 in Nairobi.

Present day Ruto kitchen cabinet members like Mudavadi went on a rampage in July 2021 condemning any proposal for a 16% VAT tax on fuel claiming it will increase the price of basic commodities and cause a lot of suffering to Kenyans. Now the Mudavadis have been whipped to parade themselves in support of the exact tax they opposed as Ruto allies during the Uhuru presidency.

In 2021, President Uhuru made a proposal to slash a 16 percent VAT on petroleum to 8 percent, after a stalemate in parliament and the current Ruto MPs like Kimani Ichungwah and Ndindi Nyoro were the champions blocking any idea of having a 16% VAT on fuel and the MPs voted to support President Uhuru’s deal to have VAT on fuel at 8%.

That was then when common sense was considered valuable in making decisions about the country and the economic realities that Kenyans live with. Now the Ruto boys are being ordered around like sheep to help him impose 8% hike in the cost of living for every Kenyan.

During President Ruto’s campaigns, he promised to address the high cost of living by fixing heavy taxation on Kenyans whom he said were being overtaxed.

Audit firm KPMG, in its review of the Bill, warns the proposal “is likely to impact the prices of transport and production of goods, increasing the inflationary pressure on the economy.”

On Sunday, May 7, matatu owners warned commuters that fare hikes will be inevitable if higher taxes are imposed on fuel.

“We know very well that for products to reach consumers they have to be transported, so every product’s prices will go up,” said Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai.

The cost of fuel is really going to cause havoc and chaos in the country and kill any hopes of reducing the cost of living and reviving the economy. Don’t forget that President Ruto had, in his inauguration speech, announced the end of the subsidy program, saying, it would cost the country Sh230 billion by the end of this financial year.

Kenyans are not going to take Ruto’s “tax me to death” policies lying down. They are ready for the fight.

The civil Servants unions have already declared that they will not tolerate a 3% tax on their income allegedly to be allocated to a Housing Fund.

How does the Housing Fund benefit the workers whose salaries are being taxed? Is every worker going to be given a housing loan or a house from the fund? No. That is not happening. Why were the workers not consulted before such a tax specifically on them was imposed?

Ruto simply wants to collect a ton of money so he can go around the country announcing so-called Affordable Housing projects like the ones he has been announcing across Kenya for photo ops knowing fully well that his government has no money and no intention to build any such housing.

Ruto’s idea of taxation is to hold Kenyans hostage and identify areas where it is easy to scoop money and this one is perfect. The Ruto government will simply grab workers’ money from the source (government payroll) and stuff it in their coffers and they don’t have to explain a damn thing about how that money is being used to benefit those paying it.

Ruto has so far announced more dozens of huge housing projects in Nairobi, in Kiambu and Homa Bay and elsewhere to much fanfare. Did Ruto have the money for those projects before he launched them? Where is that money?

Here is Ruto in Ruiru with his fake launching of housing projects he has no money to build.

The biggest one so far was in Starehe where Ruto promised to build 6,704 housing units at a cost of Sh. 13 billion. Ruto’s housing announcements so far are more than Sh. 100 billion and he doesn’t have a penny for any of that, except the money to pay for the little placard with his name pinned on something so he can take pictures with that for showboating.

All these Housing Projects for photo ops and KK theatrics.

Now after launching all these Housing Projects for photo ops and KK theatrics, Ruto wants to rob Kenyan civil servants by taking 3% of their salaries and pretend that he will use that to build houses in which the civil servants have no say nor any interest and will get nothing in return.

Why would Ruto want to deduct money from workers for something those workers have no interest in nor any benefit accruing to them? Where else in the world do we have such a form of taxation?

The other area for sure easy tax that Ruto has jumped on is to tax beauty products for women from wigs, to nails and everything else. Why did Ruto jump on this? It is because he is sure Kenyan women will buy those products and the 5% tax on that is sure money for him.

It is like telling the whole country that you are imposing a tax on shirts and pants for everybody who buys them. Are people going to stop wearing shirts and pants? No, they are not. So the tax money is coming. That is what Ruto is doing with beauty products.

This has been the entire Ruto tax plan in his very first tax as president. Grab all the low-lying fruits and gobble it all up. The consequences for Kenyans and for the economy are going to be devastating but Ruto doesn’t give a damn about that.

If you add removing the Uhuru government subsidy on fuel and the new 8% increase of VAT to 16%, the price of fuel for Kenyans will have gone up more than 20% or more by the time the new Ruto taxes take effect on July 1, 2023. That increases the price of everything for Kenyans. Brilliant governing for the “Hustlers”, isn’t it?

The Ruto tax scam is going to take the resistance against his regime to another level altogether.

Everybody’s life and economic survival are at stake with these new taxes. Kenyans are going to fight against that. Ruto must know that already because he is going to come face-to-face with it. The KK tribal games are not going to work here.

When fuel prices go up it affects everybody regardless of their tribe. When civil servants have to cough up an additional 3% of their money to Ruto for imaginary projects, no tribes are exempted from that tax. Kenyan women regardless of tribe buy beauty products.

That tribal game is approaching its limits as the underbelly of the autocrats in power gets exposed by their own actions that are harming all Kenyans.

Talk about confused thinking and blind support of Ruto milking civil servants.

Levy or tax makes no difference. They are both deducted at source by the employer in this case the government. In fact levy is worse because that is money going into someone’s pocket and not in the national Treasury where the tax is supposed to be accounted for.

As a levy on civil servants, the workers should have been consulted. Taxes are imposed across the board. This is levy is specific to a certain group of Kenyans. They have to be consulted and agree to it. Let nobody lie to Kenyan workers that the houses are being built for them. Anybody can rent those houses if they are ever built. Business people can rent them. Farmers can rent them. Why are those other people not paying the levy?

Yes, Kenyans have a right to housing but if you are going to deduct my money I want that money spent on a house for me and not some imaginary housing project picked up by Ruto. How are the civil servants going to benefit from the housing projects?

Like other government projects like the dams, maybe 5% of these projects will take 50 years to be completed if ever. Not even the grandchildren of the workers whose money are being deducted now will live to see any of these houses. Why grab their money now?

Are the M.Ps and the MCAs also paying Housing levies?

And the lunacy continues. These people don’t even know what parliament is for.

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and  Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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