Appeals court upholds finance law that sparked deadly Kenya unrest

A Kenyan appeals court has lifted a suspension placed on a disputed government finance law that will double the value-added tax on fuel and introduce a new housing levy - legislation that sparked deadly opposition protests this month.

Under the new law, the value added tax on fuel will double to16 percent and workers will also face a 1.5 percent housing levy that will be matched by employers.

The case challenging the finance law was first brought to court by an opposition senator seeking a declaration that certain parts of the measure should be stopped on grounds that they are unconstitutional.

"Public interest tilts in favour of setting aside the conservatory orders by the trial judge," the appeals judges said in their ruling.

President William Ruto's government says the higher taxes are necessary to stabilise government finances, which have been strained by growing debt repayments and lower-than-expected growth in tax collection.

In response to the law's signing, the opposition coalition has held five protests this month, some of which descended into violent confrontations with police where more than two dozen people were killed and scores injured.

The court's decision drew opposition criticism.

"The Court of Appeal has thrown Kenyans into more suffering. Yes, the cost of living is going to increase and become unbearable for majority of Kenyans," Philip Etale, an opposition party spokesperson, wrote on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fergus Kell, a researcher at London think-tank Chatham House, said the tax hikes were "unlikely to be a game changer in the short to medium term" since Kenya's fiscal problems are largely related to overspending and borrowing.

"It will take time for increased revenue generation to begin to make a dent in that fiscal deficit," he said.


Source: TRT