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Unions Decry Rising Taxation, Fuel Prices

Unions representing workers have decried the rising taxation and urged the government to urgently address the high cost of living, warning that increased fuel prices could push country to a crisis.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions and the County Government Workers Union said the government’s continuous raid on employees payslips could push many people out of work.

The government has initiated various tax measures including the housing tax and an increase in VAT.

“The effect of the rise in taxation by the present government is not equivalent to what workers are earning,” County Government Workers Union national secretary general Roba Duba said during a press conference in Nairobi on Saturday.

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He was flanked by Cotu deputy secretary general Benson Okwaro.

On Thursday, the government announced new pump prices that saw the price of petrol jump to Sh211 per litre in most parts of Nairobi while diesel increased by Sh21 and will now retail at Sh201.

Okwaro said Cotu was opposed to the increase on pump prices and the other taxes being introduced by the government.

“The Federation of Kenyan Employees has already threatened to employ people on a casual basis to run their business since casuals do not pay tax,” Okwaro said.

He noted that the unions are opposed to the proposed increase in the value added tax (VAT) by the National Treasury from 16 to 18 per cent.

Duba said Kenyans can not handle the increase in VAT as some of the workers are not doing well in their businesses.

The former Moyale MP said it is unfortunate that majority of Kenyans walk to work due to unaffordable commuter cost.

Duba said the government has been raising the cost of living and fuel prices yet the Salaries and Renumeration Commission has not reviewed the salaries of the workers since 2013.

He said it is unfair for the people who are already suffering to be added more burden. “We can not afford to take our children to good schools if we can not afford basics like a meal,” Duba said.

He said workers need to be paid good salaries to live well, pay school fees   and afford descent housing.

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