President William Ruto has scored a major win in his push to have the Affordable Housing Bill entrenched in law after the Kenya Kwanza allied senators shot down all amendments by Azimio la Umoja.

 Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi who presided over the session that ended past 7PM said that 27 Senators had voted to support the Affordable Housing Bill, 2023, approving only amendments proposed by the government while rejecting those brought by the opposition.

“The results from the division show that the majority side have gotten 27 votes while the minority have gotten 10 votes, with the business of the house having been concluded this house is therefore adjourned until tomorrow at 9 AM,” said Murungi.

Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni had proposed the amendments pushed by the opposition that sought to have the deductions capped at Sh2,500 while the affordable housing levy to be paid at the rate of 1.5 per cent of the net salary of an employer or an employee.

Omogeni in amendments pushed by the opposition unsuccessfully sought to have the affordable housing levy based on gross salary of an employee or any gross income received or accrued that is not a salary in what he said was aimed at ensuring that it was fair to the majority of Kenyans.

“We want the Treasury Cabinet Secretary to exempt from payment of the levy any person who enters into a subsisting mortgage that is not contemplated under the Act, any person residing in a rural area is in possession of a certificate of title registered in their name,” said Omogeni.

The Nyamira Senator in the amendments sought to have any person engaged in agricultural farming or business activities whose annual turnover is less than Sh288,000 per year exempted and also sought to have all the funds collected through the levy allocated to county governments as a conditional grant.

The opposition also pushed to have exemptions for individuals aged 50 years and above who are engaged in informal business activities as well as any person with less than five years remaining to statutory retirement at the time of the enactment of the Act.

Omogeni sought to have counties entrusted with the management of the fund and not the proposed Affordable Housing Fund Board since development functions are a preserve of county governments and if boards were to undertake this function then it would be in conflict with provisions of the Constitution.

“The bill has pushed by the government side seeks to creates a board to be in charge of investment programmes on all housing projects in counties, this will be in conflict with the schedule Six of the Constitution that reserves housing and development as a function of counties,” said Omogeni.

In expressing their reservation about the bill Azimio La Umoja allied Senators managed to get 10 votes in seeking to have the amendments while others who could have voted from their side were not in the house at the time of voting paving the way for the government side to carry the day.

Attempts by the minority side to have their views incorporated as part of the amendments flopped as each of their proposed amendments was defeated during voting as the Kenya Kwanza side could be heard shouting in victory that they had won.

The minority side decided to go down while fighting engaging the deputy speaker in a shouting match which almost ended up in a physical confrontation as both sides surrounded the area where the speaker sits as voting was getting underway.

The Senate Roads, Transportation and Housing committee chaired by Kiambu Senator Karungo Thang’wa had amended the Bill to have a person eligible for allocation of only a single housing unit provided they meet prescribed criteria in the regulations.

Thang’wa told the house that the amendments sought to clarify that a person refers to a natural person and the said person may only access one unit which will ensure that the objective of the Bill was to ensure that Kenyans have access to affordable housing.

“Should a person who has made a voluntary saving but missed on the unit, they may withdraw their savings by issuing 90-day written notice to the agency for a refund with any accrued interest, while the individual may apply to the Board for approval of issuance of an affordable mortgage to develop a rural affordable housing unit,” said Thangwa.

The Kiambu Senator told the house that the application will need to be accompanied by an agreement that the applicant agrees to have their saved deposits and the land upon which the unit is to be built used as collateral, upon approval the applicant shall cause a charge on the title to be executed in favour of the Board.

Wajir Senator Mohammed Abass said to restrict ownership of the housing units, beneficiaries of the housing unit shall not by contract, agreement or otherwise, sell or agree to sell his or her unit or any interest therein to any other person unless with prior written consent of the Board.

The bill seeks to prevent default on the payment of the levy where an amount remains unpaid when it becomes due and payable by a person liable to remit the amount, a penalty equal to three per cent of the unpaid amount for each month or part thereof that the amount remains unpaid and shall be summarily recovered as a civil debt for the person liable to remit the amount.

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