Kenyans will have to dig deeper into their pockets access the internet and use their phones after President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Financial Act of 2021. The latter introduced tax-related amendments that affected data and airtime charges and his assenting to the bill is quite contrary to what pundits had foreseen give the overburdened state of most households in the country.

The  new taxes or revised duty had not been earlier included in the Finance Bill, 2021 tabled in Parliament on April 30 and which enjoyed government’s backing. In the recent past, parliament rejected a proposal by treasury to change how tax on bread is calculated which would have seen in the bread prices shoot through the roof, thereby making it a product for only the rich. Uhuru is also on record rejecting the Finance Bill in 2018 and 2019.

With such moves, pundits had opined that the president would not sign off on the ones he did yesterday but he has since appended his signature.

“With the Presidential Assent of these critical legislative instruments that anchor the Financial Year 2021/2022 budget, Kenya’s public finance sector is on a stronger foundation to spur economic growth, fund critical development projects within the Big Four and other seminal initiatives,” State House said in a statement.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was to start collecting the duties from yesterday and it is widely expected that treasury will collect about Ksh. 8 billion from telecos as the common man s starts feeling the pinch immediately.

On Tuesday, Safaricom had asked its clients to brace themselves for increased airtime and Internet charges if the president assented to the bill.

“This being a consumption tax, the burden, unfortunately, has to be absorbed by customers,” Peter Ndegwa, the Safaricom CEO, said.

“Our plea to the government is to rethink this tax increase given the current economic environment. Mobile services have come to support a majority of people who have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic relying on mobile services to work from home, learn or earn a living. The increase will thus only intensify the negative impact on our people,” he added.