By Ebi Kesiena
Until next month, Kenyans will continue to contribute 1.5% of their salaries to the housing levy.
The High Court issued a stay order for the government to continue collecting the housing levy until January 10, 2024. This followed the ruling in November 2023, which declared the housing fund unconstitutional.
In a ruling issued on Thursday, January 4, the Court of Appeal ordered the maintenance of the status quo on the collection of housing levy.
A three-judge bench led by Lady Justice Lydia Achode said the government will continue to collect the tax until the case is determined on January 26. “In the meantime, the status quo obtaining as of today shall be maintained until the delivery of the ruling,” ruled Lydia Achode, John Mativo and Mwaniki Gachoka, as quoted by NTV.
According to President Ruto on why he wants the housing levy collection to continue, that the programme has employed more than 120,000 Kenyans, adding that freezing its funding will myriapods the progress.
Ruto said the housing and Social Health Insurance Fund programmes are constitutional and no one should stop them maintaining that a few individuals and cartels who used to embezzle NHIF funds are using the courts to fight back.
On the other hand, Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u moved to the appellate court to stop the order blocking the collection of the levy.
In his petition, Ndung’u pleaded with the judges to extend the conservatory orders for the government to collect the levy.
In the November 2023 ruling, the court declared sections 84, 72 to 78 of the Finance Act null and void, stating that the housing levy amendment lacks a comprehensive legal framework.
However, Lawyer George Murugara requested a 45-day grace period to comply with the court ruling to allow for necessary adjustments to the taxation procedure.