Politics

Kenya Finance Bill 2024 Sparks Mass Protests in Nairobi

Nairobi recently witnessed intense protests and clashes between police and protesters opposing the Finance Bill 2024. The bill, aimed at boosting revenue and reducing borrowing, has sparked widespread opposition due to its proposed tax hikes. Here, we provide an in-depth look at the key points from the protests and the ongoing debate over the bill.

Protests and Arrests

The protests in Nairobi saw dozens of demonstrators arrested by police, with some reports suggesting over 200 arrests. Among those detained were journalists and rights observers, prompting Amnesty Kenya to call for their immediate release. The scale and intensity of the protests reflected the deep dissatisfaction with the proposed tax measures.

Police Response

The police response to the protests was forceful. Officers used tear gas and batons to disperse the crowds, and there were reports of running battles and gunshots in the city center. Nairobi Police Commander Adamson Bungei stated that no group had been granted permission to protest, citing security concerns as the reason for the crackdown.

Amendments to the Finance Bill 2024

In the wake of the protests, the Finance Bill 2024 was amended to address some of the most contentious issues. Key changes included the removal of proposed tax hikes such as:

  • 16% VAT on bread
  • Tax on transportation of sugar
  • Tax on financial services
  • Tax on foreign exchange transactions
  • 2.5% Motor Vehicle Tax

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Additionally, exemptions were introduced for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and farmers. Changes were also made to the eco-levy and mobile money transfer charges. These amendments were seen as a response to the public outcry and the significant pressure exerted by the protests.

Public Reaction on Finance Bill 2024

The public reaction to the Finance Bill 2024 and the protests has been one of strong support for the demonstrators. Many business owners and traders backed the protests, citing the high cost of living and what they viewed as punitive taxation measures. Opposition leader Raila Odinga also weighed in, urging lawmakers to scrutinize the bill and remove clauses that would disproportionately burden the poor.

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Security Measures

The city center was heavily guarded by police during the protests, with some areas closed off due to the demonstrations. The protests were organized under the banner “Occupy Parliament” and were mobilized through social media platforms using the hashtag #RejectFinanceBill2024. The high level of security and the extensive police presence underscored the government’s concern about maintaining order.

Finance Bill 2024

Conclusion

The protests in Nairobi and the subsequent amendments to the Finance Bill 2024 highlight the ongoing debate over taxation and economic policies in Kenya. While the government aims to boost revenue and reduce borrowing, the public response indicates a need for more balanced and fair tax measures. The events in Nairobi serve as a reminder of the power of public dissent and the importance of government responsiveness to the needs and concerns of its citizens.

As the discussion continues, it is crucial for lawmakers to consider the economic realities faced by ordinary Kenyans and to ensure that any new policies promote growth and development without unduly burdening the populace.

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