Posted Monday, June 27 2011 at 17:32
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi made a symbolic move on Monday when they submitted their tax returns to the Kenya Revenue Authority in conformity with the new Constitution.
They joined the league of Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth and Chief Whip Johnstone Muthama, the only two MPs who have been paying tax for some time now, and in so doing, collectively signalled that the other legislators have no valid reason to resist KRA’s tax proposal.
The debate about MPs paying taxes has consumed the public’s mind for a number of years and the constitutional stipulation that now makes it mandatory only serves to add to the urgency.
At the heart of the argument is the fact that paying tax is a civic duty for all citizens as it provides the revenues to run the government.
For the MPs, the matter is particularly critical given the fact that they are paid very well and two, they make decisions on how funds are used.
If ordinary citizens, the majority of them poor, can pay tax, why not MPs?
But when all along these were philosophical arguments, they are now constitutional, meaning they must be observed.
It is instructive that the MPs took a new oath after the promulgation of the Constitution and swore to protect and defend it.
They cannot, therefore, turn round and make excuses because some sections of the new law do not favour them. They must live according to the letter and spirit of the law.
In the circumstances, the leadership of the august House should discuss with KRA the modalities for effecting the payments.
Examples have been set and the MPs have no reason to exclude themselves from a constitutional and moral obligation.