By Shirley Wandera (15/06/2023)

The controversial Finance Bill 2023 report sailed through the second reading on Wednesday. 257 Members of Parliament were present during the vote, with 176 MPs voting in favor of the bill. 81 MPs voted against it.

Those who voted in favor of the bill include Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris; Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro; Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, and Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba.

A notable opponent was Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba, a member of the Kenya Kwanza coalition. She told the House that her constituents were against the bill and that their interests come first.

“Mr Speaker, I have gone to my people in Githunguri constituency, and they have told me very loudly that the government of Kenya, through the finance bill proposal 2023, is punitive, scandalous, and oppressive. I say no to an oppressive bill,” she said.

The voting comes after the National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee tabled the amended Finance Bill 2023 on 13th June 2023 after public participation.

The bill includes various proposals – a 1.5% housing levy, 5% digital content creator tax, 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products, 7.5% rental income tax, and  16% VAT on business transfers.

Speaking during the proceedings, the speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetangula, commended members of parliament for their decorum and urged them to remain undivided even after the final legislation.

The Finance Bill 2023 has sparked a nationwide debate, with most Kenyans rejecting the proposals due to the high cost of living.

The bill will proceed to a third reading where MPs will convene as a committee to consider the bill clause by clause.