The Taxman Leaveth

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The Kenyan government this week scrapped a series of tax proposals, including a 16 percent value-added tax on bread, that had sparked rage and protests in the East African nation as it seeks to shore up its finances and eliminate its national debt, the BBC reported.

On Tuesday, lawmakers announced they were dropping some of the tax proposals following a meeting with ruling party legislators and President William Ruto.

Including the bread tax, officials are also scrapping levies on cooking oil, mobile money services and motor vehicles. They also reversed an eco-tax targeting products that negatively impact the environment, such as packaging and plastics.

The axed proposals are part of Ruto’s plan to make Kenya more self-sustainable and resolve its $80 billion national debt.

But opposition leaders and many Kenyans warned that the measures will impact the country’s poor and raise prices on key goods, such as sanitary napkins, computers and other key goods. Others cautioned that the duties will curb economic growth and increase unemployment.

Kenyans have taken to the streets this week to protest the financial bill with police arresting more than 200 people, the Associated Press wrote.

Since he was elected in 2022, Ruto has introduced a series of taxes on fuel, salaries and gross sales, including a 1.5 percent housing tax on gross income for salaried individuals.

The president has previously said that Kenyans are undertaxed but acknowledged the difficulty in urging citizens to accept more taxation.

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