By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa (@mmajiwa)
It would seem, if newspaper reports are to be believed, that the MPs who refuse to pay taxes have reached an agreement with Treasury on how to go about paying their taxes. The agreement could see the MPs, who had previously refused to pay taxes, pay taxes on their full salaries and then get compensated by the treasury for paying the said taxes.
According to the papers ‘a deal was agreed at two separate meetings at the Treasury on Tuesday and Wednesday attended by top treasury officials and two representatives of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, representing MPs who refuse to pay as demanded by the new constitution. In the deal the Treasury will give MPs an ex-gratia to compensate them for paying tax on all their income’
Who will foot the bill for this deal? he taxpayer that’s who! So in effect the Kenyan tax payer will be paying taxes that will be used to compensate their elected representative for the taxes he or she has paid on their salary, which by the way is also paid by the Kenyan taxpayer?!
And as if it is not enough for the Treasury and MPs to strike an agreement that effectively indemnifies members for paying taxes in accordance with the constitution. The agreement is also reported to include the implementation of the recommendations of the Akiwumi Tribunal on Parliamentary Terms that would see the salaries of MPs increased to Kshs 1.1 million each.
That some members of the parliament refuse to pay taxes despite clear constitutional provisions that state that they should do so and that the very same members of parliament continually attempt to negotiate their way out of paying the taxes seems to me like a slap in the face of both democracy and rule of law. What happened to democratic principles like representative government, and rule by the people? What does it mean for our democracy when 222 people (less the members that have paid their taxes, or who agree to pay) show blatant disregard for the wishes of the majority? And what does it mean for the rule of law when the people we elect to make and uphold law, are the very same ones to openly defy it?