Kenya: President Ruto Says 3% Housing Levy is Nations’ Collective Business
Nairobi — President William Ruto has defended the proposed 3 percent Housing levy for Kenyans saying it is a collective business of Kenyans.
Speaking Sunday during an interdenominational prayer service in Isiolo Boys High school the head of state indicated that Kenya belongs to everyone and each citizen should be involved on issues that concern the country.
“Many people have questioned me why I am bothering them with all of this; some are asking me whether they asked me for a house and why I want to deduct their money. This country belongs to all of us,” he stated.
“It is our collective business as the people of Kenya to make sure that we work together for this national and we must carry everybody along.”
On April 23, President Ruto said the government will further strengthen the Housing Fund to help more Kenyans purchase affordable housing units.
The President said that as the government rolls out the affordable housing program, there must be a solid plan aimed at addressing the financing of low-income earners to consume the units.
Ruto announced that Kenyans will now be contributing 3 percent of their income and kick start their journey of owning a house.
“Every employee who contributes 3 percent, the law will compel their employer to also contribute 3 percent to the Housing kitty,” he added.
The President said civil servants will also benefit from the program.
The Treasury has since formally proposed changes to the Employment Act through the Finance Bill 2023, which has been tabled in the National Assembly for approval to allow deductions of 3 percent from employees’ basic pay to aid in Ruto’s plan to construct affordable housing for Kenyans.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u has, however, capped the proposed deductions, which will be matched by employers, at Sh5,000.
However, Ruto’s proposal has elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans with some welcoming the move which has come under heavy criticism form different quarters including the opposition.
Three days ago, on May 18, the Kenya Post Primary Teachers Union KUPPET called on Parliament to amend the Finance Bill 2023 in a bid to make the proposed Housing Levy voluntary.
Moses Mbora, a union official who represented the KUPPET Executive Secretary before a Senate Standing Committee on Education on Thursday, said teachers would not afford a 3 per cent contribution to the fund.
He said most KUPPET members had loans leaving their pay slips with minimal funds.
“KUPPET does not support the deductions of salaries from teachers amounting to three percent for the purposes of funding the housing levy,” Mbora declared.
He said teachers’ financial situation had been worsened by failure by the Teachers Service Commission to effect promotions.
KUPPET proposed that President William Ruto’s administration adopts the Jubilee Party model under Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta where the government considered other alternatives to fundraise.
“We propose the government to continue constructing the houses in the same model the Jubilee government handled that project so that it looks for funds or it budgets for such kind of projects,” he said.
However, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) has come out to criticize unions that are against the idea of the housing levy proposal.
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli in a statement on May 9, said that he had engaged President Ruto and all union leaders on the matter.
“Cotu (K) would like to encourage the trade unionists who skipped labour day celebrations and the meeting with the President to embrace social dialogue and stop politicizing serious matters,” he said.
Atwoli cited Article 43 (b) of the Constitution, which states that every Kenyan has the right to appropriate standards of sanitary conditions as well as accessible and adequate housing.
“The government has made it clear that it has already invested Sh5 billion into the housing fund and those who contribute to the housing fund and later wish to withdraw their contributions will have access to their savings with interest,” he added.