Most Controversial Bills Approved by Parliament in 2023


Since his ascent to power, President William Ruto has assented to several bills which have raised eyebrows among Kenyans.

Part of the reason why Azimio’s Anti government Protests gained traction earlier in the year was because most Kenyans across the board, despite their political leanings felt the government had resorted to introducing punitive policies.

The Kenya Kwanza government and President William Ruto have been at pains to explain the rationale behind introducing these policies, even as Kenyans continue to feel backed against the wall.

Here are the three crucial and most controversial bills signed into law by President Ruto.

The Finance Bill 

In June 2023, President William Ruto signed the controversial Finance Bill into law at State House following its passage by the National Assembly.

President William Ruto (seated) signs Finance Bill 2023 into Law at State House, Nairobi on Monday, June 26, 2023.

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The Bill was passed amid a heated debate between Kenya Kwanza and opposition-allied politicians over some of the proposals contained in the document.

184 MPs mostly affiliated with the Kenya Kwanza coalition supported the bill, whereas about 88 MPs mostly aligned with Azimio opposed it.

The Bill had 87 proposed amendments that the National Assembly approved.

Among the contentious amendments to the bill included the Housing Levy, which was initially proposed to be at 3 per cent but was later revised to 1.5 per cent. 

Other proposals in the bill included a tax for digital creators charged at 5 per cent and the Betting and Insurance withholding tax, charged at 12.5 per cent and 16 per cent.

Privatisation Bill

President William Ruto, on October 9, assented to the Privatization Bill at State House. 

The bill repealed the Privatization Act 2005, which was enacted before the implementation of the current constitution.

The bill, which was sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, contained a revised regulatory framework for privatising public non-profit-making government entities.

The bill sought more participation from the private sector in economic production and further sought to improve the delivery of public services through the involvement of private capital and expertise to generate additional revenue for the government. 

Azimio la Umoja, led by leader Raila Odinga, took a swipe at the government protesting against the plan to privatise 11 parastatals, including Kenya Pipeline and the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

Social Health Fund

In October, President William Ruto assented to the Universal Health Care Bill, a pivotal move geared at bolstering his Universal Health Coverage plan. 

The legislative package comprised the Social Health Insurance Bill, Digital Health Bill, Primary Healthcare Bill, and Facility Improvement Financing Bill, all ratified by the National Assembly.

The Social Health Insurance Bill, a cornerstone of this reform,  seeks to abolish the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), ushering in three new funds: the Primary Health Care Fund, Social Health Insurance Fund, and Chronic Illness and Emergency Fund. 

Simultaneously, the Facility Improvement Financing Bill seeks to institute safeguards to ensure that funds generated in public health facilities are exclusively allocated to health-related purposes.

The legislation also seeks to solidify the role of Community Health Promoters in delivering community-based primary healthcare services. 

The proposed law has faced opposition, particularly from healthcare practitioners and those employed in the formal sector.

The law proposes a mandatory monthly contribution of 2.75 per cent to be drawn from Kenyans’ salaries, with a minimum cap set at Ksh300 and a maximum at Ksh 5,000.

President William Ruto assents to the NG-CDF Bill as other leaders look on at State House on Monday, December 11, 2023.

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