Ruto Allies Race Against Time To Regularise Housing Tax

Ruto Allies Race Against Time To Regularise Housing Tax

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 — President William Ruto’s allies in Parliament are racing against time to regularize the framework for the establishment of the Affordable Housing Fund mandating the Housing Levy declared unlawful by the High Court.

A Joint National Assembly Committee conducting validation of a proposed Bill is set to conclude public participation on Wednesday, setting the next steps in motion.

House leadership announced a two-week timeline for the realisation of a new legal framework after the Court of Appeal ended a stay on a High Court order suspending Housing Levy deductions.

Court of Appeal’s decision on January 26 angered government-allied lawmakers who vowed to ensure the enactment of an Affordable Housing Bill.

“We believe in not more than two weeks because it’s the question of public participation which will be concluded by tomorrow, the bill will be presented before the house next week,” Johanna Ng’eno, Chairperson of the National Assembly Housing Committee, said on Tuesday.

“What will be remaining will be the Presidential Assent which will take one more week, so we are looking at two weeks to be done,” he stated.

The Affordable Housing Bill sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party, Kimani Ichung’wah, seeks to impose the Affordable Housing Levy to finance the provision of affordable housing and associated social and physical infrastructure.

The National Assembly Departmental Committees on Finance and National Planning and that on Housing, Urban Planning, and Public Works have collected views from the public on the Bill across nineteen counties.

Addressing gaps

“Most issues raised were concerning the collection of levy in the formal and informal sector and the issues surrounding different pay. Those are some of the issues that we will be considering,” Ng’eno noted during Tuesday’s joint sitting.

He added: “People want these houses to the extent where were are wondering whether we will be able to build enough houses for everyone.”

While declining to extend a stay suspending High Court’s decision on Housing Levy, the Court of Appeal cited public interest.

“In our view, public interest lies in awaiting the determination of the appeal,” Justices Lydia Achode, John Mativo and Mwaniki Gachoka declared.

In the contested decision rendering President William Ruto’s housing plan illegal, Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli and Lawrence Mugambi said key provisions on the Housing Levy under the Finance Act (2023) violated the Constitution.

The judges argued that by singling out the formal sector without justification, the law failed to conform to the principal of nondiscrimination.

Data by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) indicates the State Department for Housing and Urban Development had collected Sh26.8 billion under the mandatory housing development levy until December.

By Pulse

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