Economy

President Ruto remains undettered as court stops housing levy

DNRUTOHOUSING2701k

President William Ruto officiating the groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed Shauri Moyo 'A' affordable housing project on January 27, 2023. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

President William Ruto suffered a blow Friday morning after the Court of Appeal declined to extend an order allowing the government to continue collecting the housing levy.

A bench of three judges ruled that public interest tilts in favour of not granting the order sought by the government.

Read: Ruto pleads with court to allow housing levy

"Public interest in our view tilts favour of in not granting the stay or the suspension sought. Public interest tilts in favour of awaiting the determination of the issues raised in the intended appeals," Justices Lydia Achode, John Mativo and Mwaniki Gachoka said.

After the ruling, an undettered President insisted that the affordable housing plan would continue, adding that the court should have given the government time to complete creating the law to actualise the plan.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I want to tell them that we were in the reprocess of creating a law to guide the process and they should have given us time. We will also appeal the case so that we continue with the programme and create jobs for millions of Kenyan youth...” Mr Ruto said on Friday on his second day of Meru County tour.

“I want to tell those who have gone to court that there is no greater public interest than to create jobs for our youth who have graduated from our institutions yet they don’t have income.  They should know that we’re on a mission to create equity in our country and they will not stop us...this is the first government that has a clear demonstrable plan on how to create employment,” he said.

Speaking at the same venue, National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah said they will respect the Court Of Appeal ruling but added that Parliament will create a new law to actualize the housing levy.

“Soon we will create a new law that will ensure the affordable housing projects are implemented,” he said.

Illegal levy

The government had asked the Court of Appeal to suspend a judgment of the High Court that found the levy illegal as it targets a section of the population.

In a decision last year, three judges of the High Court ruled that the introduction of the housing levy through amendment of the Employment Act by Section 84 of the Finance Act, 2023 lacks a comprehensive legal framework in violation of Articles 10, 201, 206 and 210 of the Constitution.

Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli and Lawrence Mugambi further stated that the imposition of the housing levy against persons in formal employment to the exclusion of other non-formal income earners to support the national housing policy is without justification, is unfair, discriminatory, and irrational.

Read: High Court suspends decision quashing Housing Levy

The appellate court has said in its ruling that the question that begs an answer is whether, in the circumstances of the case, it would be in the public interest to grant a stay whose effect is to allow a statute that has been found to be constitutionally illegal to continue being in the law books pending the hearing of an appeal.

"We do not think so. This is because should the Court hearing the appeal affirm the constitutional invalidity of the impugned laws, then all actions that will have been undertaken under the impugned sections of the law during the intervening period will be legally frail," said the judges.

→ [email protected]