Economy

MPs, Senators dispute delays rent, loans Covid relief bill

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Parliament building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Senators passed the Pandemic Response and Management Bill, 2020 in June when effects of the virus hit the economy hard and sent it to the National Assembly for debate and approval.
  • The National Assembly, however ruled that the proposed law is a money bill and must be reviewed by its Budget and Appropriations committee, a move that has delayed its debate for three months.

A proposed law that seeks to protect Kenyans from auctioneers after defaulting on rent or loans due to coronavirus-related hardships has stalled on differences between the Senate and National Assembly.

Senators passed the Pandemic Response and Management Bill, 2020 in June when effects of the virus hit the economy hard and sent it to the National Assembly for debate and approval.

The National Assembly, however, ruled that the proposed law is a money bill and must be reviewed by its Budget and Appropriations committee, a move that has delayed its debate for three months.

“The Committee has since received communication from the National Assembly that the Bill has been determined to be a “Money Bill,” the Senate Ad hoc committee on the Covid-19 says in a report.

“This is a fate that has befallen not just the Pandemic Response and Management Bill, but many other Senate Bills which have been passed by this House and referred to the National Assembly for concurrence.”

It remains unclear on when the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations committee will table its report on the bill paving the way for its debate and approval.

It passage will pave the way for a raft of coronavirus relief measures to those who have lost jobs, been placed on unpaid leave, closed businesses or took salary cuts.

It bars property owners from auctioning or locking tenants from their offices and residences in case they default on rent due to the coronavirus-related hardships.

Landlords will also be compelled to strike agreements with distressed tenants on how to settle the rent arrears when the pandemic ends and resume their jobs and businesses.

The bill also bars banks and micro-lenders from charging fees, interest or any other penalty in case a borrower reeling from a lay-off, salary cuts or closure of business defaults on a loan.

Delays on approval of the bill come at a time over 1.72 million workers have lost their jobs since March.