Kisii County Assembly Faulted For Passing Bill To Tax ‘Sadaka’

Arati Kisii Governor

Clergy members criticize taxation on night vigils and street preachers, while some residents support noise regulation measures

Kisii County Assembly’s recent passing of the County Finance Bill 2023 has sparked controversy and debate, as it introduces fees for churches conducting night vigil prayers, commonly known as keshas. The bill, awaiting Governor Simba Arati’s signature to become law, stipulates that churches wishing to hold keshas will be required to pay Sh5,000 per week. Additionally, preachers who take to the streets to spread the gospel will face a fee of Sh2,000 per week, with loudspeaker-equipped vans incurring higher charges of up to Sh8,000 per week.

Following the bill’s passage, some members of the clergy expressed dissatisfaction with the county leadership’s decision to impose levies on keshas and crusades, practices that had not previously been subject to taxation. Lawrence Nyanuga, the chairman of the Kisii Pastors and Clergy Forum, described the move as unfortunate and called for Governor Arati to reconsider the decision in light of its impact on the clergy.

Pastor Nyanuga characterized the introduction of taxes on churches as a betrayal by elected leaders, noting that they had sought the support and prayers of the clergy during their campaign for office. He urged the government to assist churches in their mission of reaching out to souls through evangelism, emphasizing that keshas, in most cases, do not generate significant financial profit.

While the clergy perceives the taxation of churches as a form of taxing God, some residents of Kisii have welcomed the proposal, citing its potential to regulate noise levels from preachers and churches, particularly in residential areas. Supporters of the fees, such as Mr. Enock Ogoti from Daraja Mbili, expressed relief at the prospect of reduced disturbances caused by competing sounds from different churches during the night, emphasizing the need for peaceful sleep.

The proposed kesha fees have generated contrasting opinions within Kisii County, with the clergy condemning the move as a betrayal and an imposition on non-profit organizations, while some residents view it as a means to promote noise control and enhance the quality of life in their communities.

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