Affordable Housing Bill good to go, says Muturi

Attorney General Justin Muturi at Parliament Buildings, February 2024.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Attorney General Justin Muturi has expressed his support for the Affordable Housing Bill, 2023, which among other things seeks the re-introduction of the halted housing levy.

Muturi, who appeared before the National Assembly joint committee of Housing and Planning and  Finance, submitted that the Bill had addressed all the issues singled out by the courts when declaring the levy unconstitutional.

He explained that the issue of the levy being discriminatory has been dealt with, given that the Bill had now expanded the 1.5 per cent levy to both salaried and non-salaried Kenyans.

On the issue of lacking legal frameworks, Muturi said the Bill is set to incorporate structures on how funds would be managed.

“By proposing to enact the Bill, therefore, the government is responding to the ruling of the court by establishing a legal framework for affordable housing and management of the funds to be collected under the proposed law,” said Muturi.

The AG, however, challenged the lawmakers to initiate amendments in areas where they felt there was no clarity as pertains certain clauses.

Protect Kenyans

He was responding to questions from the Emurua Dikir MP Johanna Ng’eno-led committee about what measures Muturi’s office had put in place to protect Kenyans from exploitation.

Ng’eno queried whether the Affordable Housing project’s financing method could be changed to be similar to that of NSSF which would then, he said, be easier for Kenyans not interested in the houses to get back their money.

Baringo MP John Makilap pressed the AG to give particular measures to be effected through the Bill that will ensure the poor do not miss out on the houses.

Muturi, however, told the MPs to make amendments to the Bill to deal with such issues if they felt some part of the draft law were unclear.

“We are of the view that the draft Bill comprehensively addresses the issues raised by the courts but the power is ultimately in the committee’s hands. Parliament should however tighten the Bill to ensure that no Kenyan suffers at the hands of another,” said Muturi.

He explained that key issues to be addressed would be the mode for financing of the Bill where members of the public have recommended that monies of those not interested in purchasing houses be refunded.

Muturi, who is a former speaker of the National Assembly, noted that there was also need for an express provision in the Bill providing for consultation and cooperation whenever there is a likelihood of potential overlap between the national and county governments with regards to housing function.

He also delved into the matter of public land being used for the construction of the houses and the ensuing push and pull between the national and county governments, and urged both levels of government to engage the National Land Commission which would help address the grievances.

He said the current laws were sufficient to address the land issues.