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Kenya: More protests over controversial tax bill

Demonstrators protest against proposed tax hikes in a finance bill   -  
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Andrew Kasuku/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


Hundreds of Kenyans again took to the streets of the capital, Nairobi, and other cities across the country on Thursday.

They were protesting against proposed tax hikes they say will raise the cost of living for people already struggling to make ends meet.

The increases are part of a new finance bill which proposes introducing new taxes and levies in a bid to reduce the country’s budget deficit.

"We’re not going to sit at home so that they are going to pass another finance bill without our approval,” said one demonstrator.

“We’re going to add our voice to this and we need them to understand that we are not okay with what they want to force on us."

Police were out in full force on Thursday using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds after clashes with demonstrators.

More than 200 protesters were arrested on Wednesday in similar protests.

Some major tax proposals in the bill were dropped, including on bread, after a Tuesday morning meeting between ruling party lawmakers and Kenyan President William Ruto.

Other levies that had prompted debate and have been amended include a proposed 2.5% motor vehicle annual tax that was to be placed on insurance.

A proposed tax on goods that degrade the environment will also be amended to apply only to imported goods to encourage local manufacturing.

The finance bill is currently in its second reading in parliament with a vote scheduled for Monday.

President William Ruto has defended the tax increases, saying the government needs to reduce its reliance on borrowing.

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