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University Students Declare Support For Finance Bill

University students have declared support their for President William Ruto’s taxation plans, which have been opposed by other sectors of the economy.

The Kenya Universities Students Association said the controversial Finance Bill, 2023 will go a long way in addressing accommodation challenges for members aside from creating job opportunities for the youth.

The President of the association Anthony Manyara said the proposed housing levy will address accommodation shortage in institutions of higher learning.

“We will be making a proposal to the President on how the student accommodation can be made part of his affordable housing plan,” he stated.

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Manyara said the housing levy proposal has been successful in several countries.

“It is not blind loyalty to the government. MPs have mortgage. It would be very hypocritical of them not to help ordinary Kenyans to own houses,” he added.

He called on Kenyans to support Ruto with the plan, and hold him to account if he mismanages the programme.

Samuel Oloo, the chairman of Mutarakwa Harmony Cooperative, said the housing levy gives workers in housing and construction industry a lifeline.

“There will be a lot of job opportunities for people in the construction industry when building of these houses begin,” Oloo said.

Mutarakwa is a cooperative bringing together youth in the construction industry.

Oloo and Manyara made the remarks during public hearings on the Finance Bill, 2023, which entered day seven on Sunday.

The sittings by National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Finance were held at Hilton Garden Inn, Mombasa Road.

Committee chair Kuria Kimani noted that accommodation was one of areas students wanted addressed.

“Students have pointed out that one of the things that is making university education unaffordable is accommodation. Students have been competing with salaried people for houses,” he said.

Kimani said his committee has received submissions from stakeholders who want the Bill passed as well as those who want it to be amended first.

Parliament is in receipt of hundreds of petitions from members of the public who are opposed to President William Ruto’s taxation plan.

Proposals that have attracted the highest number of opposition include raising VAT on petroleum from eight to 16 per cent, proposed housing levy pegged at three per cent of basic salary as well as increase of income tax to 35 per cent for those earning 500,000 and above.

Workers’ unions have decried implementation of the planned tax regimes and urged Parliament to reject proposed amendments in the Finance Bill, 2023.

The Kenya Universities Staff Union secretary general Charles Mukhwaya said once passed, the Bill will see total deductions from employees’ monthly earnings shoot up to 52 per cent.

Mukhwaya said already as is, the statutory deductions are overburdening workers.

These include NHIF, NSSF, PAYE and Housing Fund levy among others.

Opposition coalition Azimio has termed the Finance Bill 2023 proposed by the Ruto administration as a piece of punishment for Kenyans.

Azimio has accused Kenya Kwanza administration of turning against its promises to the common Kenyans of lessening the burdens of living by proposing tax increments.

The Opposition has promised to mobilise its MPs to shoot down the Bill, but expressed fears that the government could ‘buy’ opposition MPs to pass the Bill.

Kenya Kwanza government has vowed to go ahead with the enactment of the Finance Bill, 2023 as is despite criticism from several quarters.

Ruto has defended the Bill saying it aims to expand the tax base while factoring in important aspects.

The Bill will expand this year’s budget to Sh2.8 trillion up from the current Sh2 trillion passed in the 2021/22 financial year.

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