MPs pass Finance Bill amid intensified protests, prepare for recess from June 28

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In the vote on Tuesday, 195 MPs voted in favour of the bill rejected by the public as a tool to overburden citizens via higher taxation, while 106 opposed it. There were three spoilt votes.

As thousands of Kenyans took to the streets of various towns in reinforced demonstrations against the contentious Finance Bill, 2024, members of parliament voted in the final stage before assent by President William Ruto.

On Tuesday, the Finance Bill proceeded to the Committee of the Whole House, where each amendment was voted on clause-by-clause.

A total of 195 MPs voted in favour of the bill rejected by the public as a tool to overburden citizens via higher taxation, while 106 opposed it. There were three spoilt votes.

They adopted the bill, meaning it now only awaits signing into law.

Meanwhile, MPs will begin a two-week recess on Friday, June 28, following the completion of budget-related activities in the House.

The motion was moved by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, who emphasised that the break would allow legislators to gather feedback from their constituents on the enhanced National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) proposals, which have been increased by Sh30 million.

However, nominated MP John Mbadi opposed the motion, suggesting that the recess be delayed to address the public's concerns on the Finance Bill amid more intense protests across the country.

“We are at a critical moment in this country, especially this week and next week. We are elected leaders so it is important to delay the recess to study what is going on. If there’s a requirement to sit down and make some adjustments, we will be here. It would be irresponsible [not to] when our young generation is protesting against some of the decisions we make,” Mbadi said.

Speaker Moses Wetangula presented the motion in Parliament, where it received the unanimous approval of the majority of the members despite Mbadi's arguments.

Opposition amendments withdrawn

At the same time, MPs allied to the opposition's Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition have withdrawn all the amendments that had been lined up for the Finance Bill. The 13 amendments were among 37 filed by 31 MPs ahead of the committee stage.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi explained that the amendments were withdrawn after a meeting of Azimio MPs on Monday because they deemed them an exercise in futility.

“You must be cognizant of the huge numbers of amendments that have been withdrawn and it is good to put that into context. For the benefit of the members of the public, you can see these amendments that have been dropped, emanating from the Azimio coalition, as a result of extensive consultations,” Wandayi said.

He further stated that Azimio, led by opposition chief Rail Odinga, reached the painful conclusion because they felt it was in vain and a futile exercise to sanitise the exercise, which they had all along declared a fraud.

Wetang'ula clarified that the amendments were filed by individual members, not on behalf of the coalition.

"The amendments withdrawn are not your amendments. None of them belong to you. I have not received any communication from anyone who has withdrawn their amendments that they have asked you to speak on their behalf,” Wetang'ula told Wandayi.

Among the MPs who had lined up amendments to the Finance Bill are Peter Salasya (Mumias East), Paul Nzengu (Mwingi North), Caroli Omondi (Suba South), John Wanjiku (Kiambaa), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Peter Kaluma ( Homabay Town).

Others were Mukunji Gitonga (Manyatta), Beatrice Elachi (Dagoretti North), Farah Yussuf (Wajir West), Clive Gisairo (Kitutu Masaba), Anthony Oluoch (Mathare), Gathoni Wamuchomba (Githunguri) and Irene Mayaka (nominated).

Also on the list were Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Wakili Edward (Gatanga), Kwenya Thuku (Kinangop), Michael Muchira (Ol Joro Orok), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti), Rindikiri Mugambi (Buuri), Mary Maingi (Mwea), Patrick Makau(Mavoko) and Mwingi West MP Charles Ngusya.

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