President William Ruto insists that the three percent housing levy his government plans to deduct from basic salaries is mandatory patriotism in which the employed will help the jobless earn a living.
In return, the salaried workers will get either a house or their savings back plus interest.
“We are planning to build 200,000 houses every year. Those houses will create job opportunities for at least one to two million youth,” he said during a joint media briefing at State House, Nairobi.
“I don’t see the reason why anyone who is privileged with a job today…a job that can be done by many others, will have issues contributing to a national scheme to help the less fortunate, starting with me as the president.”
The levy, which was greeted with criticism by both employers and their salaried employees, has been opposed by the Opposition, civil servants, nurses and even MPs from his own Kenya Kwanza One Kenya alliance.
But the president said the plan was being fought using propaganda “but all the monies received remain owned by those who donated it to us”.
He said the government is compelling civil servants to save in the scheme since at the end of the day, the money will be returned to them either as houses or savings plus interest.
“This is not a joke, it is a serious thing and all those employed owe their less fortunate a favour of lifting them up,” he said.
He said the proposal would sail through “and it should not be treated as a tax rather it is a national plan where we will get something small from your basic salary so that we can occupy these brothers and sisters out there without jobs”.
Once complete, the houses will be bought by those in need, he said.
“The proposed percentage is from the basic salary. Ignore the propaganda that it is a lot of money from the salary…and it is not a new tax…it is a donation…where you only give us your money for a period of time to help us create more job opportunities by initiating these projects. It is a win-win situation that should not be misinterpreted…and it is a serious one…and it is coming for real,” he said.
In the plan, the employee is expected to contribute three percent of the basic salary and the employer tops up with a similar percentage per salaried worker.
“This is your money yes, but you are giving it to us so that we can build affordable houses for the common mwananchi,” he told the journalists, who are equally affected.
“And it will have two segments—social housing and affordable housing. The former targets those with low income, especially those from informal settlements, and they will be paying rent as mortgage.”
At one point, the houses, he said, will be surrendered to those tenants to fully own them.
On affordable housing, he explained that it would be a scramble by everyone in need on a mortgage basis.