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Hundreds of Kenyans march in protest against controversial finance bill

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Hundreds of people in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, protested against proposed tax increases outlined in the new finance bill on Tuesday.

There was a heavy police presence in the city’s streets, ahead of the bill’s first reading in parliament. The demonstrations, dubbed “Occupy Parliament,” were organized to pressure lawmakers not to pass the bill.

The protests took place despite Nairobi Police Commander Adamson Bungei said that no group had been granted permission to protest in the capital.

“We are not giving up. They are lobbing teargas at us but we are still going hard,” a breathless protester told CGTN’s Robert Nagila.

Some major tax proposals in the bill were dropped after a Tuesday morning meeting between ruling party lawmakers and President William Ruto.

“We are going to end up with a product in Parliament that came from the Executive and has been interrogated by the Legislature. Through public participation, the people of Kenya have had a say,” Ruto said.

Among the dropped items were the proposed 16 percent value-added tax on bread, transportation of sugar, financial services, foreign exchange transactions, and the 2.5 percent Motor Vehicle Tax.

Additionally, there will be no increase in mobile money transfer fees, and Excise Duty on vegetable oil has also been removed.

According to an official statement, the proposed Eco Levy will only be imposed on imported finished products that contribute to e-waste and thus harm the environment when they are no longer in use.

Kenyan legislators are set to begin debating the bill on Wednesday, with the vote planned for Monday.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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