President William Ruto remains undeterred in the face of dissent, staunchly defending his administration’s contentious proposal of a 3% housing levy. This program aims to tap into the earnings of employed Kenyans, framing it as a patriotic duty to uplift the economically disadvantaged.
The introduction of the levy promises a unique return: a house or the individual’s savings with accrued interest. The ambitious initiative is slated to facilitate the construction of 200,000 homes per year, potentially generating one to two million jobs for Kenyan youth, the President revealed in a joint press conference held at the State House in Nairobi.
President Ruto posed a rhetorical challenge, asking why those fortunate enough to have employment would oppose contributing to a national program that seeks to uplift the less privileged. He held himself as an example, willing to participate in the scheme.
Despite the noble intentions, the proposed levy has not been without its detractors. The opposition spans a broad spectrum including employees, employers, civil servants, healthcare professionals, and surprisingly, some parliamentarians from Ruto’s own Kenya Kwanza One Kenya alliance.
President Ruto dismissed the pushback as mere propaganda, reassuring the public that the collected funds would remain in the ownership of the contributors. He further stressed that compelling civil servants to participate was a move towards enforced savings that would eventually benefit them in the form of housing or savings plus interest.
“This is not a jest; it is a grave matter, and all those gainfully employed have a moral duty to lift up the less fortunate,” he passionately stated.
The President was confident that the proposal would overcome the hurdles, emphasizing that it should not be misconstrued as a tax. Instead, he presented it as a national initiative designed to mobilize a small fraction of an individual’s basic salary to generate employment for the jobless.
He further elaborated that upon completion, the houses would be sold to those in need. He downplayed the levy’s impact on personal earnings, dismissing it as negligible, and clarified that it should not be perceived as a new tax. Instead, he likened it to a temporary donation to facilitate job creation via these housing projects.
Under the scheme, employees are expected to match the 3% levy with an equal contribution from their employers.
Ruto, addressing the press, said, “This is indeed your money, but it is temporarily entrusted to us to construct affordable homes for the average mwananchi.”
He outlined a two-pronged approach: social housing for low-income earners, particularly those from informal settlements, and affordable housing. The first group would pay rent as a form of mortgage, eventually leading to homeownership. The affordable housing segment, on the other hand, would operate on a first-come, first-served basis for those in need of mortgages.