Do Not Pay Housing Levy- Raila To Employers After High Court 'Null & Void' Ruling

Raila spoke after he gave his perspective on the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report, whose recommendations the Azimio Parliamentary Group (PG) had endorsed on Wednesday, November 29.

Do Not Pay Housing Levy- Raila To Employers After High Court 'Null & Void' Ruling
Raila Odinga speaking to the press on November 20, 2023. /ODM PARTY

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga has directed all Kenyan employers to stop remitting contributions to the Housing Levy, a day after the High Court declared sections of the Finance Act unconstitutional, including the Housing Levy.

Raila spoke after he gave his perspective on the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report, whose recommendations the Azimio Parliamentary Group (PG) had endorsed on Wednesday, November 29.

Responding to queries from journalists, the former Prime Minister affirmed that the three-judge bench had declared the Housing Levy unlawful, despite the government responding by seeking a 45-day conservatory order regarding the Housing Levy, which the government granted, continuing the 1.5 per cent deductions until January 10, 2024.

As such, employers who would be forced to continue remitting the deductions, Raila added, would be going against the Constitution.

"The court pronounced itself on the matter yesterday that it is unconstitutional and even though they say it is a stay, my view is that the matter still remains unconstitutional and therefore I would urge the employers to immediately stop paying anything because you'll be acting unconstitutionally," he stated much to the applause of the audience.

Raila Reacts To NADCO Report

Regarding the NADCO report, Raila termed it as incomplete as it did not address the pertinent issues such as the cost of living, even though he acknowledged it as a good starting point.

"Azimio however remains deeply disappointed that the committee was not able to agree on the one fundamental issue on which Kenyans are united across the political divide. The two teams were unable to agree on the need and the means to reduce the cost of living. This is why we have described the document the Committee presented as imperfect and unfinished," Raila addressed.

"It was not for lack of trying on our part that the committee was unable to agree on the issue of cost of living."

Raila revisited how at the beginning of the talks, the Kenya Kwanza administration was allegedly adamant that the cost of living would never be taken to the discussion table, let alone being discussed.

He noted that the government had insisted that the only issues it was ready to discuss were: The reconstitution of the IEBC, the Implementation of the Two-Thirds Gender Rule, the Entrenchment of the Constituency Development Fund, Establishment and the entrenchment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and embedment of the Office of Prime Cabinet Secretary.

"Through persistence and insistence, we forced the cost of living onto the table. We had hoped that as the talks progressed while life got harder for Kenyans, Kenya Kwanza leaders could have empathy, soften their hearts and agree to lessen the burden their policies had imposed on Kenyans.

"Our delegation pushed for the complete overhaul of the Finance Act 2023, which had come with harsh taxation measures that made and continue to make life unbearable to an overwhelming majority of Kenyans. At no expense to the government, we deployed our team of economists to recommend to the administration measures which, if adopted, would immediately bring the cost of living down," he added.

Raila advised the government to reduce travel budgets by 50% as well as reduce the Daily Subsistence Allowances for State and Public Officers by 30 per cent.

He further asked the government to reduce the road maintenance levy and the anti-adulteration levy by Ksh5 and Ksh3 per litre respectively and for the reduction of VAT on fuel from 16% to 8%. Notably, it called on the government to scrap the housing levy or at least make it voluntary before the High Court pronounced itself on the matter.

The former Prime Minister accused Kenya Kwanza of hardening its stance on the matter, adding that "We realized that without the goodwill of the top echelons of the Kenya Kwanza leadership, cost of living was never going to be addressed. They told our team that the cost of living was a government issue; that they have a manifesto and the mandate of the people of Kenya to implement it."

Next Steps

Raila announced that Azimio would seek other ways to press the government to listen to the cries of the people and bring down the cost of living.

"The other ways will include but will not be limited to consultations with the people. At all times, we will retain the right to call on the people to take steps that we deem necessary to force the government to lower the cost of living.

"We also support the document with a proviso that certain aspects must be approved by the people by way of a referendum. To create the office of the leader of the opposition or to formalize the office of the prime cabinet secretary, the people of Kenya have to have their say by way of a referendum. Besides it is a constitutional requirement that such significant restructuring of government must go through a referendum to avoid the mischief that may be played by some people going to court," he announced.

Raila Odinga speaking during an Azimio Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting on November 29, 2023. /AZIMIO TV