MPs hand Ruto first round victory, pass Affordable Housing Bill

Kenya Kwanza MPs heeded President William Ruto’s call to hasten the passage of the Affordable Housing Bill. [PCS]

Legislators handed President William a first-round victory after they gave the Affordable Housing Bill,2023 a smooth sailing in Parliament.

MPs drawn from the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance on Tuesday heeded to President William Ruto’s call to hasten the passage of the Bill, and tapped into the support of their allies from across the political divide to make it a reality.

After days of debate, the affordable Housing reality moved a stepped closer into becoming reality after lawmakers voted 141 against 58 to see the Bill sail through the second reading stage.

The Bill by Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwah has now moved to the third reading stage and is set to be given the nod or rejected in its entirety on Wednesday afternoon.

This, after President Ruto on Monday read the riot act to MPs imploring them to hasten the passage of the Bill so that he can be able to provide jobs for youths.

And on Tuesday, Ichungwah took cue from the Head of State and called on the MPs to pass the Bill, arguing that it was the silver bullet to the unemployment burden in the country.

‘’I want to see which MP is going to oppose this Bill, I want to see which MP is going to deny his electorates an opportunity to get a job, because this bill is about creation of jobs, it’s about jobs for our people,” he said.

“Clause two on the Bill is quite explicit that social housing units will be houses targeting people whose monthly income is below Sh20,000. I heard the Leader of Minority asking, how will mama mboga afford to buy a house, it is these people who are being targeted with the social housing,” he added.

His sentiments, however, did not go without protests from the Azimio lawmakers.

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo criticized the 1.5 per cent to be imposed on salaried and employed Kenyans.

“The provision under clause four is very dangerous and I would urge that this matter is relooked into. Because those farmers in the village who after producing their crops, sell their produce will be required to surrender 1.5 percent of their gross produce to this housing levy. This is punitive, this is going to lead to unnecessary harassment of ordinary Kenyans by KRA,” he submitted.

Nominated MP John Mbadi argued that the Bill would only be burdening the already hurting backs of Kenyans.

“There is something that worries me about this Bill. In an effort by the Executive to correct what was said in court, they are creating a bigger problem to the people of Kenya… We are exposing Kenyans now, including even the mama mboga who were promised that this levy will only affect those who are salaried,” said Mbadi.

Molo MP Kimani Kuria, who co-chaired the joint parliamentary committee spearheading public participation on the Bill, said that the committee will be moving amendments to address the gaps.

“One of the amendments we will be moving tomorrow is a provision that all the transfer of land from public to private will have to follow the Lands Act,” said Kimani.

“On the issue of penalties, in terms of the time when these levies are levied to relevant authority, we will also be promoting an amendment so that they are in line with the Tax Procedures Act so that the fines and penalties that shall accrue as a result of late disbursement will follow the rest of the taxes as enshrined in the Procedures Act,” he added.

The Finance and National Planning Committee chair also noted that they had recommended for the scrapping of the 10 per cent deposit requirement for future house owners.

“We listened to Kenyans or they said that the 10 per cent proposed deposit is too punitive and might not be affordable to majority of hustlers that want to get involved in this program,” he further stated.

Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi was concerned that Bill was being rushed through, and sought to have the third reading postponed to Thursday to allow MPs with amendments more time to introduce the same.

“Due to the many amendments that have been proposed by various members on the controversial Bill, I would request that you give us time, so that we debate the bill on Thursday to allow as many members as possible to bring amendments,” he urged.

Ichungwah was however opposed to the idea noting that the timing was right.

‘’We should not delay the debate on this Bill, any amendments can be proposed and we can even have a supplementary order paper, but this debate must come tomorrow,” he said.