President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law nine bills including the Finance Bill 2017, which allows the government to tax betting firms at a uniform rate of 35 per cent.
The move comes barely a week after the Head of State refused to sign the bill and sent it back to the National Assembly claiming that Members of Parliament deleted a clause that was designed to discourage youth from engaging in betting.
Members of Parliament (MPs) had shot down the punitive tax rate rise whose chief proponent was National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich before Kenyatta declined to assent the Bill.
The President finally signed it yesterday in a move that is likely to turn the gaming sector on its heels.
The purpose of the amendment of Section 59 B of Cap 469 was to ‘discourage Kenyans, especially the youth, from betting, lottery and gaming activities instead of productive economic engagement, a vice that is likely to degenerate into a social disaster.’
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had initially proposed a 50 per cent tax levy on gaming firms, which later garnered protests from industry players saying hiking the tax will not only kill the growing industry but also discourage investors.
Until now, lotteries were taxed at 5 per cent, betting firms bookmakers at 7.5 per cent, casino gambling at 12 per cent and competitions like raffles at 15 per cent.
Other Bills assented to by the President include the Basic Education Amendment Bill 2016, the Division of Revenue Bill 2017, Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017, Insurance Amendment Bill 2017, Hydrologist Bill 2016, the Clinical Officers Bill 2016 and the National Coroners Service Bill 2016.
The Basic Education Amendment Bill 2016 requires the government to provide every teenage school girl enrolled with sanitary towels while the Division of Revenue Act seeks at providing for the equitable provision of revenue raised nationally between both levels of government and would be effective starting 2017/2018 fiscal year.