NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Applicants who have challenged implementation of the Housing Fund Levy now want their petition referred to Chief Justice David Maraga to appoint a three-judge bench to determine their case.
The parties who appeared before Justice Maureen Onyango said that their application raises weighty issues of law which cannot be determined by a single judge.
“It is fair if this matters are taken to the CJ for purposes of appointing a three-judge bench,” the court heard.
However the judge directed the parties to file their responses and appear before the Deputy Registrar on June 14, 2019 to confirm compliance and be given a date when to appear for directions.
The judge said that implementation should not take place pending hearing of the applications challenging execution of the Finance Act 2018 relating to payment of a 1.5 per cent levy by employers and a similar percentage by employees.
COFEK lawyer Henry Kurauka has submitted to court that the Cabinet Secretary for Housing has already put a public notice in the media announcing the commencement of the Finance Act 2018 relating to the Housing Fund Levy.
The lawyer said that the decision by the CS to implement section 31 A of the Employment Act imposing Housing Fund Levy is illegal, unconstitutional, discriminatory, oppressive and irrational and without basis coming too late.
Kurauka said that introducing the Housing Fund Levy is not a priority in Kenya, because there more pressing issues with 13 counties being ravaged by hunger and drought where farmers are unable to secure input and further coupled by Health challenges and unmet expectations on NHIF.
“There is a rising cost of living and poverty which the government must address first,” the lawyer said.
Implementation of the Housing Fund Levy, he argued will increase unemployment as many employers will resort to cut down their workforce to detriment of the economy, saying that statutory amendments that increases cost of human resource will create job crisis in the country.
“The said Housing Fund Levy does not guarantee that all contributors under the scheme would get houses after investing their money,” he observed.
The Fund is discriminatory to many citizens especially those who own their houses or retiring, people living with disability low income earners and retrenched workers.
The judge directed the CS and Attorney General to respond to the application by COFEK through its officials Stephen Mutoro, Ephrahim Kanake and Meshack Ochieng who have said that if the Fund is allowed it will affect many people.