Nairobi News


Bill to cushion employees, tenants during pandemic gazetted

A Bill seeking to cushion and protect tenants who are unable to pay rent and shield employees from being fired during the coronavirus pandemic has been gazetted,

Members of the Public now have 14 days to submit their views on the Pandemic Response and Management Bill 2020, drafted by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.

The Bill proposes that Kenyans should not be laid off or coerced to take pay cuts by their employers during the period of the global pandemic.

According to the Sakaja bill, business operators will not be mandated to pay for their trade licences and land rates during the current pandemic.

The proposed law also seeks to provide measures to mitigate effects of the Covid-19 and provide a mechanism to cushion those who may be adversely affected.

“The principal object of this Bill is to provide a framework for the effective response to and management of a pandemic in order to prevent the occurrence or spread of a pandemic whenever it arises,” said senator Sakaja.

Those who want to make submissions on the Bill have been told to do so either orally or by through written submissions to the Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye.

After the 14 days, the Bill is set to be tabled in the Senate for the first reading before being forwarded to various committees to handle the various provisions therein.

“Upon receipt of a notice, the contracting parties shall enter into an agreement on how the tenant shall meet their obligation at the end of the pandemic,” it states.

It also states that the Housing Cabinet Secretary, with the approval of Parliament, shall provide measures to cushion landlords and tenants during this period.

The Bill further proposes that where the public is not able to service their loans and mortgages due tot he crisis, individual borrowers shall notify and enter into a deal with the lending entity on repayment after the pandemic.

Penalties shall not be imposed and the defaulter shall not be listed by the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) during the period of the pandemic.

“A lending financial institution shall not charge fees, interest or any other penalty for non-payment or late payment of obligations during the pandemic period,” it states.

The Bill provides that where a pandemic affects the economic or purchasing power of the public, the Treasury CS may, with Parliamentary approval, introduce tax measures to cushion the affected persons for the duration.

According to the draft law, the government may also waive water and electricity charges for identified vulnerable persons and households or adjust tariff rates to reduce utility charges to individuals and businesses, and that there shall be no disconnection for non-payment of utility bills.

The Bill also seeks to cushion vulnerable Kenyans whose jobs have been disrupted.

“During this period, national and county governments shall put in place social safety schemes designed to support vulnerable persons, households and informal sector workers whose incomes have been disrupted.

“The schemes include unconditional cash transfers to support the identified groups to meet their daily basic necessities.”

The relevant senate committee shall, during the period of the pandemic, prepare and submit to Parliament bi-weekly status reports.