People opposing finance bill protests in Nairobi. Photo/ Courtesy (REUTERS).

Police arrested 11 protesters in Nairobi who were demonstrating against the 2023 finance bill set to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow for the second reading.

The demonstrations had been convened by several human rights groups to oppose the controversial bill which they said if passed it will expose ordinary Kenyans to more economic hardship.

Police engaged the protesters in running battles while lobbing teargas canisters multiple times to disperse and prevent them from accessing Parliament.

More than 100 protesters participated in the demonstrations while chanting anti-finance bill slogans and urging the government to lower the cost of living.

“They intend to kill us with hunger. The price of bread has gone up. Maize flour is now out of reach of many. We say no to the finance bill. Stop over-taxing us,” they said during the protests dubbed Sita Sita, yesterday’s dates.

One of the protestors, 23-year-old James Oluoch who disclosed that he is unemployed and lives in Kibera, said that he can barely keep up with the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.

“What police are doing to us is not right. We want the MPs to hear our voices. We can hardly put food on the table, the government has abandoned us,” Oluoch said.

He added, “We are protesting because we are frustrated. I am jobless and with no steady income yet even the little I earn; the government want to carry everything in taxes.”

If Parliament approves the bill a raft tax will be introduced as the government eyes expanding the tax base and raising revenues to fund the budget of Sh3.6 trillion for the year 2023/24

A new statutory deduction is set to be introduced for affordable housing project at three per cent of gross earnings which will reduce employee’s disposable income.

Cosmetic products which include human hair, wigs, false beards, eyebrows, eyelashes and artificial nails will now attract a five per cent excise duty.

Small business enterprises with total sales of Sh500,000 annually are now legible to income tax which previously applied to businesses with an annual turnover of Sh1,000,000 which now attract a three per cent tax of the gross sales.

Prices of petroleum products will increase if the bill passes since it has proposed that their VAT be increased from the current eight to 16 per cent.

Since the bill was introduced the ruling Kenya Kwanza alliance has come under heavy criticism accusing President William Ruto of rowing back on August campaign promises when he assured low-income earners that once he ascends to the apex office his office would uplift their living standards.

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya alliance have been at the forefront to oppose the bill saying that Kenyans are already overburdened by the high cost of living yet the government has remained silent over the issue.

The opposition coalition held protests to push the government to lower the cost of living and drop the proposals contained in the controversial bill.

On Tuesday Jubilee party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni told the government to withdraw the bill in its entirety.

Top national unions of the public sector have also put the government on notice saying that they will rally their members to a strike the following day after Parliament passes the controversial 2023 Finance Bill.

The union officials told their members to reject several taxes and levies contained in the bill key among them the housing levy.

Despite the mounting pressure to review the taxes proposals from the public, President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua have maintained a hard stance over the bill.

On Sunday while calling for voting of the bill in Parliament to be made public, Ruto said he will go after any Kenya Kwanza MP who will vote to oppose the bill.

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