President Ruto: I will implement housing levy no matter what

President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

President William Ruto has vowed to implement the Housing Levy despite a High Court judgment that declared it unconstitutional.

Presiding over the official opening of the second annual Kenya Diaspora Investment Conference (KDIC) held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on December 13, President Ruto said that the affordable housing plan needs to be implemented to catch up with other developing nations.

"We know what we must do but we can't gather the courage to do it. This time round whatever it takes, we are going to implement it (housing levy)," said Ruto.

President Ruto said some countries like Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia have implemented affordable housing projects making them more developed than Kenya.

The head of state said that the project is a good plan and had been proposed by both his Kenya Kwanza administration and the Azimio la Umoja coalition but argues that there seems to be a problem with its implementation.

"This beautiful project was in the manifesto of Kenya Kwanza, the same project complete with percentages of the levy was also in the Azimio manifesto. But when it came to implementation..that is where the devil lives. We are going to do this when people hardly mean it," he said.

High Court Judges Christine Meoli, Lawrence, and David Majanja gave their judgement on November 28.

During the ruling on petitions filed challenging the Finance Act 2023, Justice David Majanja said that the court had found the levy to have violated Article 10, 2 (a) of the constitution.

"We find that the introduction of the housing levy amendment to section 84 lacks a comprehensive legal framework in violation of Article 10 of the constitution, that levy against persons in formal employment without justification is discriminatory and irrational,” Majanja said on behalf of the three-judge bench.

While ordering that no charges should be further collected, the Judges ruled that sections 84, 72 to 78 of the Finance Act have also been termed null and void.

"An order is granted prohibiting the respondent from collecting, charging on otherwise the charge known as the affordable housing act," he said.

The judges however suspended the implementation of the judgement until January 10 to give the government time to appeal.

The levy is part of the Finance Bill 2023 which was passed by parliament on June 22, 2023, and later assented by President William Ruto on June 26. 

However, Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah and six others moved to court seeking to stop the implementation of the Finance Act 2023.