The Employment and Labour Relations Court on Wednesday put on hold the inception of an advisory board meant to oversee the housing plan and funds for the government’s agenda of constructing 500,000 affordable units.
The suspension could interrupt President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambitious project, which is one of the Big Four Agenda.
Initially, the project was meant to commence in June 2018 but was put off for reasons attributed to complex logistics and planning measures.
In December 2018, the project was faced with fresh challenges when the 1.5 percent housing tax imposed on salaried workers was suspended by the Employment and Labour Relations Court claiming that it was unconstitutional and that it aggregated to double taxation.
The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, James Macharia’s decision to look for potential candidates for the advisory board was on Tuesday challenged by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE).
FKE went to court to stop the process where Justice Nelson Abuodha in his ruling said “That in the interim an injunction order be and is hereby issued restraining the Minister for Transport and the National Housing Corporation, their agents, servants, representatives or any persons claiming to act through them from proceeding with any actions and process aimed at appointing members of an advisory board and-or establishing an advisory board.
The nomination of the members of the advisory board had been advertised through the media on December 24, 2018.
FKE, Cotu, Kenya National Union of Teachers, Union of Kenya Civil Servants, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance each received three nominee invitations from the ministry.
FKE, however, argued that there was no public participation on the formation of the board by the ministry. It also stated that the CS had not been mandated to establish the board by the Housing Act.
Jacqueline Mugo, the executive director and chief executive of FKE said that the action was illegal and that the establishment of an advisory board and the call for nominations of advisory board members contravenes the provisions of section 6 of the Housing Act which provides that the Housing Fund is under the control of the National Housing Corporation.
Mugo further pointed out that Francis Atwoli, Cotu Secretary-General had filed an application to which the High Court on December 19 temporarily suspended the 1.5 percent National Housing Development Fund.