Bishops in Kenya Decry Rise in Taxation, Say High Cost of Living "strangling" the Poor

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) are calling on the government of the East African country to address the high cost of living in the country, noting that over-taxation is “strangling” the poor.

Speaking at the end of their Plenary Assembly which was held at St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre in Nakuru Diocese, the Catholic Bishops also highlighted the plight of the unemployed, the challenges in Kenya’s education system, and the endemic vice of corruption in the country.

“The high cost of living has deeply affected and shaken the social fabric of Kenyan society. It is especially strangling the very poor in their modest needs,” the Bishops said at the end of their plenary on Friday, November 10.

According to the KCCB members, families in Kenya are under “immense stress” as they struggle to make ends meet.

“Parents find it challenging to provide for their children's education, healthcare, and overall well-being. This situation is perpetuating a cycle of poverty, limiting opportunities for personal and societal growth,” they said.


The Bishops said that the high cost of living in Kenya has led to the country’s economic stagnation, further exacerbating the unemployment problem in the country, and creating a vicious cycle of financial hardship for the population.

The KCCB members pleaded for a wider consultation and discussions among government and other stakeholders to review and study ways to mitigate the effects of the high cost of living.

“We believe that the greater commitment and assistance in the agricultural production, and the better-coordinated sale of products; the fair prices for produce like maize; waiver of certain licenses and zero rating farm inputs, etc. can relieve many Kenyans of this burden,” they said.

In their nine-page statement, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya also expressed concern about the high taxation imposed on Kenyans which they partly blamed on external factors such as the Ukrainian and Middle East conflicts.

They pleaded with the government to moderate taxes for Kenyans which they said has taken a toll on the income of families.

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“Many traders and businesses are now faced with the option of closure or laying off employees due to the immense drain to their resources and added tax burdens,” the Bishops said, and expressed regret that businesspeople were being “insensitively harassed” by the taxman to give more.

KCCB members appealed to the Kenyan government to find “a reasonable balance between the desired income for the government and the minimum protection of the basic needs of the very ordinary Kenyan and respect to their dignity.”

“Our true patriotism and true leadership, as government, churches, and faiths, can only be measured in the care we have for the most vulnerable in the society,” they said.

On the issue of unemployment, the Catholic Bishops decried what they termed as “obvious corruption” which they said has contributed to the lack of employment, especially among the young people.

They said that unemployment had rendered the youth idle and desperate, warning that “the frustration will reach alarming proportions, with great social risk and dire consequences” if not quickly addressed.


“We decry the obvious corruption within the public sector, whereby cronyism, tribalism, and discrimination seem to dictate the chances of employment. The avenues of fair employment seem to be dwindling,” they said.

They added, “The vice of bribery and favors for employment has truly discouraged job seekers, especially young people.”

The Kenyan Bishops urged the government to put in place transparent and fair processes during recruitment especially in government offices.

The Bishops also expressed their concern about the challenges in the country’s education system which they linked to the “disco-ordinated and abrupt changes of policies and directives in the entire system or in specific areas of Education.”

They noted that changes to the country’s main students’ financier, the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) had created barriers for economically disadvantaged students, hindering their ability to access higher education and jeopardizing the future of an entire generation.

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The Bishops said, said that reducing government capitation in universities is likely to have far-reaching consequences, and explained, “Parents and guardians are forced to bear a heavier financial burden to ensure their children can access education.”

The Catholic Bishops in Kenya also spoke about the protection of the dignity of every Kenyan as another emerging issue in the country that should be addressed, adding that the proposed digital identification legislation that involves the addition of facial and Iris biometrics needs public engagement before any implementation.

The said government’s imposition of new charges on digital identification documents, “targets an element of violation of the human person, through the use of certain new technology.”

“We are therefore raising our concern that a process that involves any insertion of microchips or other digital elements, especially to new-borns, is unacceptable because this would compromise the inviolable dignity of the recipient,” the Bishops said.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.