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Kenyans React to Weak Penalty for Corrupt Officials in Housing Fund

Kenyans have reacted angrily after discovering major flaws in the laws regulating the controversial affordable housing project.

The government on Tuesday announced employers would henceforth be required to remit a total of three per cent of all their employees’ salaries (1.5 per cent deducted from the employee and the other half contributed by the employer) at end of every month. The deductions were set to start on May 9.

This is despite a court order barring it from ordering for the deductions, until a case currently in court is heard on May 20. On Wednesday, though, the court issued a fresh order suspending the deductions pending the determination of the case.

But besides the legal battles, some of the regulations in ‘The Housing Fund Regulations 2018’, issued by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works James Macharia, provides for a fine of just Sh10,000 to anybody caught embezzling the funds.

Such culprits can also be jailed for a maximum of two years -or pay both the fine and serve the jail term. The fund is set up as part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda of affordable housing.

It is estimated that the levy will raise in excess of Sh57 billion annually.

HOUSING FUND

“A person who misappropriates any funds or assets of the Housing Fund, or assists or causes any person to misappropriate or apply the funds otherwise than in the manner provided in these Regulations, commits an offence and shall, upon conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term of two years or to a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings or to both,” part of the regulations on the ‘offences and penalties’ reads.

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Kenyans have already opposed the move, calling for a review of the regulations in order to secure their money.

On Wednesday, Kenyans ran an online campaign against the housing levy fund, as they complained on the regulation gaps and lack of public participation before the regulations were enacted.

“I say NO to the Housing Levy Fund it needs to be amended. The poor will not benefit. Details in the prints,” Obuki Bwo’Obiero said.

Vincent maritime posed “Housing fund is a COMPULSORY saving scheme’ says Tuju. Who consulted us?”

“One day people will only be getting paychecks to show them how their salary was deducted and they owe the government some money because the salary was simply not enough…” said Emmanuel Lumumba.

Peter Mburu

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