Protests Erupt in Kenya Over Proposed Tax Hikes

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Protests Erupt in Kenya Over Proposed Tax Hikes

Tensions escalated in Nairobi today as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters near the parliament building. The demonstrators were voicing their opposition to a controversial finance bill that aims to introduce new taxes and levies, potentially exacerbating the country’s cost-of-living crisis.

Protests Erupt In Kenya Over Proposed Tax Hikes

The proposed tax increases are projected to generate 346.7 billion shillings (approximately $2.7 billion), equivalent to 1.9 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP). Additionally, these measures are expected to reduce the budget deficit from 5.7 per cent to 3.3 per cent of GDP.

President William Ruto’s cash-strapped government made concessions earlier this week, diluting some provisions of the bill following clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers. However, despite public outcry, the government remains committed to implementing certain tax hikes, arguing that they are necessary to bolster state revenues and reduce reliance on external borrowing.

Protesters have vowed to continue demonstrations across the country, with planned rallies in Mombasa (a coastal city on the Indian Ocean) and Kisumu (a lakeside city known for its opposition stronghold). Meanwhile, inside the parliament, lawmakers engaged in heated debates during the bill’s second reading. The final version must pass before June 30, adding urgency to the situation.

Authorities have taken preemptive measures, blocking several roads near the parliament building and deploying heavy police presence to maintain order. As the nation grapples with economic challenges, the outcome of this legislative battle will significantly impact Kenyan citizens’ livelihoods.

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