On June 1st, the Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Collins Oyuu, highlighted a more effective approach that President William Ruto should have taken in implementing and promoting the Housing Fund project to garner support.
While addressing the press, Oyuu explained that with proper public participation, the President would get more people on board with the idea of contributing 3 percent of their salary.
Oyuu emphasized the importance of thorough public participation to ensure a higher level of acceptance among the populace regarding the proposal to contribute 3 percent of their salary.
The government has been releasing information without a concrete plan, with Ruto addressing the fund in nearly all his public appearances. Conversely, Cabinet Secretaries and their principal secretaries have also publicized the controversial project, with Housing PS, Charles Hinga, among the most vocal about the fund.
Due to the project still being in the proposal stage, different sectors have offered their input, leading to shifts in the government’s stance.
These changes have included transitioning from a tax to a levy, altering contributions from mandatory to voluntary, providing savings refunds for those who do not wish to obtain a house after seven years, and adjusting the fixed 3 percent contribution to a maximum of Ksh2,500. KNUT’s Oyoo joined in the debate demanding more clarification.
“On the issue of the housing levy, what we demanded was the idea of sitting us down and letting us know exactly what is the levy. It was all about public participation,” Oyuu stated.
“Let us know what the levy is all about, how we can confront it, and how we can convey it to our members. We must be told properly what is happening,” he added.
He argued that it was unrealistic for the President to demand a salary deduction from boda boda riders and mama mbogas who do not have a payslip.
“Telling hawkers and boda boda riders to reject the Finance Bill without giving them more information is pointless,” he remarked.
Oyuu singled out situations when public participation changed the members’ minds on several projects. However, on May 12, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) rejected the fund, arguing that its members already own houses.
The KUPPET Embu branch argued that its members reared goats, cows, pigs, and other animals and are not convinced to invest in the high-rise apartments proposed by Ruto.
While the Central Organisation Trade Union (COTU), led by labor leader Francis Atwoli, supported the Housing Fund, the Media Owners Association rejected it, stating that the proposed contribution would significantly dent employees’ take-home salaries.
“As employers, the media companies in this country are concerned with this proposal. Employees are already heavily burdened with an average tax rate of 30 percent, and contributions to National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF),” Media Owners Association chairperson Agnes Kalekye stated on Tuesday, May 30.
President Ruto, nonetheless, expects the project to provide houses for low- and middle-income Kenyans.
“This is a program that we cannot fail to do because it provided jobs for the millions of young people leaving our learning institutions,” Ruto explained on May 11.
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