State to ensure affordable housing scheme succeeds

Written By: Margaret Kalekye/KNA
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Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna says the government will resort to voluntary levying
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The government will resort to voluntary levying so as to partly finance the affordable housing programme should the case filed in court opposing the levy deductions be decided otherwise.

According to Government Spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, the government as an entity has many options on how it can meet the needs of citizens and should the case go south, then it will look at other modalities to ensure the success of the  programme, in as much as potential investors are already coming on board.

He reiterated that the government is keen on the need for affordable housing and many Kenyans want affordable housing as well and as such the latter will not hesitate to do voluntary levying on Kenyans who are interested in owning houses and are willing to be deducted a certain amount every month for a given period of time.

Col. (Rtd) Oguna added that the programme is a private sector driven but that the government is keen on providing a conducive environment through the provision of land, incentives that will allow private developers to deliver on affordable housing programme, hence the levy.

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The housing tax was to take effect last month following a public notice by the government in April ordering employers to deduct and remit the levy by the 9th of every succeeding month.

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The  Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development, and Public works and the Kenya Revenue Authority mid-April instructed employers to remit the deductions towards the housing project by the 9th of every month.

He, however, was guarded in his comments while answering to questions from journalists because the case is still in court and he did not wish to comment any further but said that over 100 potential sites have been identified countrywide,  and they represent over 11,000 acres on which affordable housing projects will be constructed.

Oguna who spoke during his weekly media brief said that housing is a basic need for every human being and as such most  Kenyans are yearning to own homes and will be willing to be deducted a certain amount every month to enable them own homes.

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He further noted that the Park Road Project will comprise of 1,370 housing units once completed and that the development is ongoing for all blocks with the first 228 housing units to be completed by September 2019 and distributed to the beneficiaries.

“We are targeting to have 8,500 housing units in Shauri Moyo, Starehe, Kibera B projects which is slum Upgrading Project to deliver an estimated 4,400 units,” he stated.

He noted that so far over 25 Counties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Government to have the  National Housing Corporation put up 3,00 housing units as part of the Affordable Housing Program.

“We are expecting the remaining 22 Counties to come on board at some point after seeing the benefits of the program in the  Counties already on board,” said Oguna.

He revealed that the government has received applications from potential Strategic Partners who have both technical as well as financial capabilities to invest in the program.

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Oguna was also keen to mention that the lifespan of the affordable housing is not tied to the Jubilee administration, adding that the work of this regime is to set a solid foundation for the programme to ensure its perpetuity even as the government works in ensuring that each and every Kenyan has a decent home.

“The project will continue beyond 2022 for as long as there is need for housing amongst Kenyans,” asserted Oguna who observed that successful completion of this program which is part of the Big Four Agenda will transform Kenya in a radical way.

The  Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU), Trade Union Congress of Kenya, Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) and Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE) are among organizations that have filed petitions opposing the levy.

The Affordable Housing Programme targets all Kenyans particularly the low and middle-income earners to ensure that they have access to decent and affordable housing units.

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