Senate committee says housing levy a game changer for economy

Kiambu Senator Karungo Thangwa. [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

The Senate Committee on Roads, Transport and Housing has declared support for the controversial three per cent housing levy in the Finance Bill, 2023.

The committee argued that if well handled, the levy could address ownership of houses under the affordable housing programme mainly among low-wage earners.

The committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Karungo Thangwa promised to introduce legislation that would make it impossible for one to own units under the affordable housing programme.

Mr Karungo said lack of information and miscommunication was to blame for the negativity around the housing levy. 

He explained that under the proposal that was open to government workers and hustlers, one can use his Kenya Revenue Authority PIN and national identity card to register for the houses.

“Under this format, one can only get one unit and we shall make sure that the hustlers are given the first priority when the programme kicks off,” he said.

Addressing the press in Naivasha after meeting senior officials from the Ministry of Lands, Karungo termed the Housing Fund a game changer for the economy.

“This programme will create hundreds of jobs for the youths and also support companies involved in the construction sector,” he said.

He noted that, unlike the affordable housing programme where ownership of units was unclear, the current proposal by the government was open and not prone to abuse.

“We shall fine-tune this proposal so that the hustlers are among the first beneficiaries and also make sure all applicants get one unit per person,” he said.

Marsabit Senator Chute Mohamed decried the slow pace of approving building plans by some counties saying this would affect the housing project.

Mohamed cited Kiambu county as the most notorious while lauding Nakuru county for approving projects in a day thus hastening the construction process.

He noted that under the housing proposal, those seeking a one-bedroom unit would pay Sh1 million while for two bedrooms Sh2 million and Sh3 million for three bedrooms.

“The applicants will pay a deposit of 12.5 per cent and then a monthly contribution of between Sh5,000 and Sh15,000 depending on the size of the house,” he said.

Nominated Senator Peris Tobiko assured Kenyans that the Senate would pass legislation to secure their funds to avert pilferage.

“In the past, Kenyans have lost millions through dubious housing projects and we want to address this through legislation that secures the applicants' funds,” she said.