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Kenya’s Growing Taxation Burden: A Disconnect Between Leaders and Citizens

‘Let them eat cake’ is a phrase attributed to Marie-Antoinette in the 18th century when her people were suffering from famine and could not afford to buy bread. The phrase showed she was out of touch with what was going on with her people. At the time, cake was considered a luxury commodity that only the wealthy could afford.


A statement by Molo Member of Parliament, Kuria Kimani, who is also the chair of the National Assembly Finance Committee, echoed Marie Antoinette’s ignorance of her people’s suffering.

“If you don’t want to pay the motor vehicle circulation tax, then don’t use the car, like how you don’t use the expressway if you don’t want to pay for it,” he said in an interview with NTV.

At a time when Kenyans are finding it hard to cater to their needs due to the high cost of living, new taxation implementations are not welcomed.

The motor vehicle circulation tax is a new taxation proposal in the 2024 financial bill. The bill is set to tax motor vehicle owners 2.5% of the value of the cars they own.

With high fuel prices, managing a vehicle for a large part of the population has been difficult and could get even harder if the bill is implemented. The fuel prices are currently Ksh 192.84 Ksh for super petrol and Ksh 179.18 for diesel.

Not less than a month after the doctor’s strike, which saw doctors take to the streets due to the decrease in the payment of medical interns, we still saw the ignorance of our elected leaders, the people who are supposed to better the nation by uplifting its people.

The comparison of medical interns to interns in other fields was an attempt to make their requests seem unrealistic and excessive.

The country’s leaders have, over time, shown their disconnect from the reality that the Mwananchi is living, with the increasing financial burdens on its citizens being a sign of a lack of understanding by our leaders.

“My drive is to push Kenya, possibly this year we will be at 16% from 14% (taxation rate). I want it, in my term, God willing, to leave at 20-22%,” President Ruto said during an interaction with Harvard Business students at State House.

With the aim of increased taxation by the government comes the question of whether Kenyans can carry this heavy burden that seemingly looks like it will get heavier over time.


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