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Housing Levy ruling: Edwin Sifuna tells Kenyans to halt celebrations

Edwin Sifuna tells Kenyans to halt celebrations after the high court declared the Housing Levy unconstitutional

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has advised Kenyans to exercise restraint in their reactions to the recent ruling by a three-judge bench on the constitutionality of the Finance Act, 2023, which included provisions on the controversial Housing Levy.

The bench, comprised of High Court Justices David Majanja, Christine Meoli, and Lawrence Mugambi, declared the Housing Levy amendment unconstitutional on November 28.

The Housing Levy, set at 1.5% of the gross monthly salary and matched by employers, was declared unconstitutional for lacking a legal foundation according to the court's findings.

The judges highlighted concerns about the absence of a clear mechanism to identify beneficiaries, raising questions about transparency and adherence to the principles of good governance.

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Senator Sifuna, while acknowledging the significance of the ruling, cautioned against premature celebrations.

"On Housing Levy, you should wait till the matter clears the entire hierarchy of the courts to celebrate. Mimi ndio nawashow," he emphasized.

The senator acknowledged the potential for legal processes and appeals to shape the final outcome of this contentious issue.

The court's decision, declaring the Finance Act 2023 amendment to Section 84 unconstitutional, came as a relief to many who had questioned the transparency and fairness of the Housing Levy.

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However, Sifuna's words serve as a reminder that legal battles often traverse multiple stages before reaching a conclusive resolution.

The judges not only deemed the housing levy unconstitutional but also highlighted issues of discrimination against payroll workers.

Justice Majanja, one of the presiding judges, noted the lack of a rational explanation by the state regarding the selective application of the levy to employed individuals rather than a broader section of citizens.

As Kenyans await the unfolding of subsequent legal proceedings, Senator Sifuna's counsel encourages citizens to maintain a watchful eye on the judicial process.

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The intricacies of the legal system could impact the finality of the ruling, and Sifuna's message resonates as a call for patience and a commitment to allowing due process to run its course.

The government could decide to appeal the ruling and the case might find its way to the Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court.

Along this judicial process, tables could turn and the high court ruling could be overturned.

The government and KRA are also seeking for the judges to give them time to regularize the housing levy, and anchor it in legislation, and avoid a legal quagmire if Kenyans ask to be refunded the money that has already been collected, or having to terminate contracts with construction companies who have already started the affordable housing projects.

The 3-judge bench is expected to rule on the government's application for an extension of time on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.

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Meanwhile, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has accused the Judiciary of trying to sabotage the government's agenda to provide affordable housing.

"I am aware that people have gone to court to try to suspend the housing levy and sabotage the housing program.

"Much as we respect the independence of the judiciary, I want to request our judges to not sabotage that program," he stated.

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