Unmasking MPs: How they tricked Kenyans on new tax vote
3 months ago, 22 Sep 15:14
MPs may have tricked Kenyans into believing that they were on their side when they met for a special sitting on Tuesday and Thursday to consider President Uhuru Kenyatta’s memorandum on the Finance Bill 2018.
A section of the MPs had planned to veto President Kenyatta’s reservations on the bill because it was going to increase the cost of living.
They cited the President’s proposal of eight per cent VAT on petroleum products, the 1.5 per cent levy on housing fund as well as the extra Sh18 for every litre of Kerosene bought among others.
In so doing, they lobbied a good number to shoot down the president’s views ahead of the big day. Just like amending the Constitution, it requires two-thirds or at least 233 of the 349 MPs in the House to veto the president’s reservations on a bill.
Although the MPs had been lobbied by their respective party leaders to pass the president’s proposals, they were in a Catch-22 situation.
They were to appease their party leaders, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who held a Jubilee parliamentary group meeting at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday and National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Mr Raila Odinga.
Mr Odinga had chaired the Nasa parliamentary group at Orange House on the same day President Kenyatta did at State House. However, the tricky part was that they were to appease their party bosses without betraying the public.
TWO BIRDS, ONE STONE
But how possible could this have happened? Unbeknown to the public, the MPs may have just killed two birds with a stone.
On Thursday afternoon, after approving the supplementary budget the MPs retreated to the committee of the Whole House to consider the memorandum.
Narok Woman Representative Soipan Tuya, also a member of the Committee of Chairpersons, was the chair of the committee for the afternoon.
When Ms Tuya put the clause on the eight percent VAT on fuel products to vote, she declared the “ayes” had won.
Those in opposition protested and stood up as the House almost degenerated into chaos.
According to Article 115 of the Constitution, those voting "nays" have the obligation to confirm that they have the requisite two-thirds majority before the presiding chair calls for a division.
Though leader of majority Aden Duale led some members out of the chamber, a claim he confirmed saying it was meant to deny the others the numbers, it is a trick that even the opposition previously employed to have their way.
However, under the same provision and Article 122, those voting "ayes" just need to be 26, being the simple majority.
ROLL CALL VOTE
In a voice vote, the only legally known and procedurally simple process is to rule that the "ayes" have it like Ms Tuya did so that the "nays" can vote electronically or by way of being counted, which is called roll call vote so that their number of 233 is confirmed.
The roll call vote is quite popular in the US congress.
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