Kenya scraps bread tax as protesters tear-gassed

Kenya’s government has scrapped some proposed taxes in this year’s controversial finance bill, including a 16% levy on bread, after a public outcry.

The announcement by MPs came as police fired tear gas and used water cannon to try to disperse angry protesters in the capital, Nairobi.

Dozens of people have been arrested, and lawyers earlier joined chanting crowds at the city’s main police station to demand that detainees be freed.

Since coming to office in 2022, President William Ruto has introduced several new and unpopular taxes with the aim of eliminating the country’s national debt of nearly $80bn (£63bn).

But critics of the latest proposals fear they will stifle economic growth and lead to job losses.

Some of the protesters marching through the capital called on the president to resign, shouting, “Ruto must go! Ruto must go!”

The U-turn over the new finance bill was announced by Kuria Kimani, chairman of the parliamentary finance committee, at a press briefing attended by President Ruto as well as other lawmakers in the ruling coalition.

His finance team has been collecting public views on the bill and he said the decision to drop some of the proposals had been made to protect Kenyans from the increasing cost of living.

Other proposed taxes that have been axed include ones on cooking oil, mobile money services and on motor vehicles, which critics said would have also hit the insurance industry.

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