The Bread Tax Debate: President Ruto Receives Backing From NGO Council 

By The Weekly Vision Reporter

The NGO Council of Kenya has supported a decision by President William Ruto overruling the proposed 16 per cent VAT on bread as contained in the Finance Bill 2024-2025. In a press statement issued last weekend, council chairman Stephen Kipchumba Cheboi said the head of state had read the public mood correctly and acted decisively to save low-income households who, in the current harsh economic times, are relying on bread as the most affordable non-cooked food item. 

“Any escalation of the price of bread would have badly affected most households, especially families with school-going children, and would have complicated an already tight situation in which many are battling to make ends meet,” Cheboi said in the statement, urging MPs debating and voting on the 2024 Finance Bill to read the public mood and avoid any further taxation affecting the average mwananchi.

He said while the council, its associate, the Global Partnership Organisation (GPO), and the Public Benefits Organization (PBO) federation support the government strategy to avoid external debts and strive to live within the country’s means, any further taxation should be put on high-end income earners both in the public and private sectors, saying some CEOs in the latter sector earn obscene salaries and should be taxed accordingly.

Cheboi called for rationalized economic policies that will help bridge the rich-poor gap, which is one of the highest in the world, saying this unfortunate scenario needs to be addressed through the bottom-up strategy of the government even as efforts are made to expand the national tax base and bring more people out of poverty into taxable income brackets.

Cheboi has in the meantime supported a statement posted on the GPO website expressing deep concern over renewed full-scale hostilities in Gaza, where Israel has launched a massive offensive both in the north and south, saying the targeting of innocent civilians, including women and children caught in the cross-fire, is unacceptable. “Israel has been saying Palestinians should leave Rafah south of Gaza and relocate to the north. When they started leaving, it again changed its mind, by saying there were Hamas militants in the north, so where should the men, women, and children go as Israel planes bombard both regions—the red sea?” Cheboi pondered calling for an immediate ceasefire and observance of the UN security resolutions on the conflict.

Cheboi has further urged the Indian authorities to probe claims that Christians are being persecuted during the current general elections by militants forcing them to worship their “gods,” saying this is a violation of the universal human rights of the UN charter upholding freedom of worship, assembly, and free speech.

“We find these claims disturbing from India, which is the world’s largest democracy, with elections taking up to one month to complete. Christians should not be harassed in any way and be left to exercise their universal suffrage in voting like all other Indian nationals,” Cheboi said.