Kenya's Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal seeking to reinstate the suspension of the Finance Act, which has introduced a raft of new taxes that have triggered protests countrywide.
For Kenyan taxpayers, this means that the original provisions of the Finance Act of 2023 remain in place - a major win for President William Ruto who has championed the new law saying it will generate new tax revenue to boost government finances depleted by loan repayments and also help plug the budget deficit.
The law had been suspended shortly after Ruto signed it into law in June by the High Court but that decision was overturned in July by the Court of Appeals. This triggered a new petition to the country's highest court - the Supreme Court - to once again block the law.
In a unanimous decision, the apex court said in an official notice on Friday that the appeal by the petitioners, Senator Okiya Omtatah and others, had been dismissed because it lacked merit and the four sets of written submissions had been filed out of time by the applicants.
The court also stated that the applicants failed to demonstrate that the Court of Appeal's decision would be unjust.
“The four sets of written submissions filed out of time by the applicants on 15th August 2023 on the Court’s online platform be and are hereby struck out,” the court said in a statement.
Under the new law, Value Added Tax on petrol will be doubled to 16%, a new housing levy of 1.5% to fund an affordable housing programme will be introduced and the income tax rate for top earners will rise to 35%.
The government expects the new tax measures to raise at least $1.5 billion meant to partially close a shortfall in the country's $25 billion 2023/24 budget and help pay the country's mounting debt.After Ruto signed the finance bill into law, the country's opposition alliance staged several protests in July - defying directives from the president to stop the rallies. Some of the demonstrations turned violent leaving more than twenty people were killed, and many more were injured.
(Editing by Seban Scaria email@example.com)