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Leaders react to Uhuru’s VAT proposal

Proposals for supplementary budget estimates and slashing of budget to minimise government spending are some of the developments to be expected when Parliament reconvenes for a special sitting on Tuesday and Thursday next week, Speaker Justin Muturi has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a National Assembly retreat with members of the Editors Guild in Mombasa on Friday, the Speaker said in a quest to save Kenyans from high cost of living, legislators could initiate budget cuts.

“To address expenditure, there is a proposal to bring supplementary budget estimates to cut certain spending,” said Muturi who has recalled the National Assembly after President Uhuru Kenyatta referred Finance Bill 2018 back to the Parliament.

The Speaker was, however, hesitant to divulge further details on matters to be discussed in Parliament saying the Standing Orders require him to communicate directly to the House first before discussing the matters publicly.

“What is now obvious is that we might have budget cuts, specifically on the recurrent expenditure which will lead to a proposal of a Supplementary Appropriations Bills,” said Muturi.

At the same time National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi hinted that members of Nasa coalition will convene for a Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday morning to deliberate on Uhuru’s recommendation on the Finance Bill 2018.

“As Nasa we shall have a PG to discuss and agree on a stand on the President’s recommendation. If they are reasonable we will accept them. If they are not, we will take a position that is contrary to the President’s,” said Mbadi.

However the Suba South legislator said any attempts to propose supplementary budget estimates was be inappropriate “at this time” noting that the situation surrounding the VAT issue was being blown out of proportion.

Meanwhile, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi lauded the President for proposing the reduction  of VAT on fuel to eight per cent.

“Removing the whole VAT tax would have been counterproductive to the economy, especially government ability to raise recurrent expenditure. But retaining it at a high of 16 per cent would have been punitive and insensitive to the basic needs plight of Kenyans,” said Mudavadi in a statement.

He said he was pleased by the President’s move to restore the Judiciary’s reduced budget, saying it would ensure the delivery of justice was not hampered by lack of resources.

Mudavadi, however, took issue with the President’s silence on how he intends to manage public debt.He called for a predictable and consistent taxation regime and policy environment.

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