Ignore calls to amend sin tax bill, lobbies tell President
Civil society actors have urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign into law the Finance Bill 2019 in its original form. The move comes after allegations emerged that cigarette and alcohol manufacturers are canvassing to have it amended.
In a letter to the President yesterday, members of the civil society slammed arguments by industry players that excise tax on tobacco and alcohol would lead to illicit trade.
The organisations drawn from the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, Alcohol Control and Policy Network, and Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya said taxes are not the singular cause of illicit trade in tobacco and alcohol.
“We call upon the President of Kenya to assent to the Finance Bill 2019 as is, to give force to the increment of excise tax on tobacco and alcohol and protect the health and wellbeing of all Kenyans,” they said in the letter.
ILA chief executive Emma Wanyonyi said there are other complementary measures, such as the strengthening of tax administration and effective implementation of the electronic goods management system (EGMS) that can be adopted to control any concerns.
He said the increase is in line with WHO best practice recommendations for a regular increase in excise rates as well as annual adjustment for inflation to prevent erosion of the real value of the excise tax on harmful products.
Industry players, especially tobacco manufacturers, have been protesting fresh taxes proposed in the budget presented in July.