Social Media Savvy Youth Engage Riot Police In Protest Over The Proposed Finance Bill 2024

By The Weekly Vision Reporter

Kenyans of goodwill have called for calm and dialogue with the government after social media-savvy youth engaged heavily armed riot police in running battles in many parts of the city on Tuesday bringing business to a standstill. Kenya witnessed its first anti-Finance Bill demonstrations with young people flooding the streets of Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) to stand against the controversial bill that seeks to place taxes on cancer treatment, a treatment that is already too costly for most Kenyans.

The bill also seeks to exempt the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) from the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act thus enabling them to go through citizens personal data without any restriction: a bill that would add taxes on sanitary pads and diapers and further increase taxes on imports as well as on delivery services. The government even wanted to place a 16% tax on bread but exempted it after numerous complaints from the public. Put simply, the bill is not only unfair but also punitive, effectively turning existence in Kenya into a sentence of hardship.

A senior Kenyan, Allan Wadu, who spoke to The Weekly Vision, urged the youth to embrace dialogue and peaceful constructive engagement as the best way to resolve differences. He said the youth who were protesting against the introduction of the Finance Bill 2024 before parliament should await the outcome when MPs finally debate amendments and vote to decide a way forward, saying protests at this stage were both premature and ill-conceived.

He told the youth to engage stakeholders in government and put in efforts towards building an egalitarian society that upholds social and economic rights for all the 50 million Kenyans domiciled in the 47 counties. Civil rights activists have faulted the Finance Bill, saying it was introducing punitive taxes that would drive up the already high cost of living. The youth are demanding the scrapping of taxes proposed for online income, mobile phone transactions, and taxes on bread and fuel.