President William Ruto has welcomed debate on the proposed housing level and finance bill that continues to elicit heated reactions.
The President who Thursday presided over his first Madaraka Day fete at Embu’s Moi Stadium seized the opportunity to drum up support for the proposals that have been met with widespread opposition.
On the contrary, Ruto said Kenya has come of age for sustaining issue-oriented national debate devoid of any hint of divisive ethnic rhetoric as has been in the past.
He observed that Kenya has been trailblazing as many countries have been unable to generate public debate on issue affecting the people such as taxation and other policy issues.
“We are truly a trailblazing nation. Many countries struggle in vain to generate a national debate on public financing, taxation, or other policy issues. In Kenya, we have easily sustained intense discourse on the Finance Bill and the Affordable Housing Policy for several weeks now” he said.
He acknowledged that the cost of living remains a thorny issue.
“The cost of living is keeping all leaders, including myself, awake, and this is precisely as it should be”.
He said the divergent reactions to his proposals meant to turn around the economy was an eye opener and also proof that Kenya is a stakeholder republic.
“More encouragingly, the discourse on public finances and the Housing Fund has opened our eyes to our emergence as a Stakeholder Republic. Kenyans today, more than ever, are fully involved citizens in shaping public policies and making institutions accountable for the manner in which they run national affairs. This is the vision of Madaraka expressed in the first article of our Constitution: All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya” he said.
“Superficially, the intense national debate on housing is not about whether it is a tax or a contribution. The attention sharply focused on housing contributions is an implicit expression of ownership. People desire better information and stronger assurances regarding custody, security, investment and return on their money” he added.
He however stuck to his guns maintaining the housing levy was the antidote to youth unemployment.
“Housing sector will ensure our entire manufacturing value chain (construction industry) will create employment, a million plus jobs both directly and indirectly”.
This he said will empower the five million unemployed youths to enter the taxable income category through intentional efforts to create jobs.
“ It is my duty to increase the number of homeowners in slums. We must transition those who live in 1411 slums into homeowners. These people deserve to live in dignity. We owe them a duty of citizenship” he said.