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Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna calls for referendum on house tax debate

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna has urged the government to allow Kenyans to have a say in the housing levy contribution through a public referendum.

Sifuna cast doubts the parliamentary process could not exhaust the debate on the controversial levy that could soon be introduced by President William Ruto’s government.

The housing levy, as outlined in the Finance Bill, 2023, suggests employees contribute three percent of their monthly salaries to support the government’s ambitious plan to provide affordable housing to the nation.

The proposal has sparked opposition from various quarters, with calls for the levy to be made a voluntary contribution instead.

Speaking during an interview on Citizen TV, Sifuna said the decision on such a significant financial burden should not be solely in the hands of the Members of Parliament (MPs) but rather be determined by the will of the people.

“It is only fair that Kenyans have the opportunity to directly vote on a matter that affects their hard-earned money and the prospects of affordable housing for themselves and future generations,”

Sifuna’s suggestion aligns with the sentiments expressed by a section of Kenyans who have been vehemently opposed to the mandatory housing levy.

Critics argue it places an additional financial burden on already struggling citizens, particularly those in low-income brackets.

The senator’s call for a public referendum has sparked mixed reactions among politicians, experts, and the general public. Supporters assert that it would promote democratic participation, allowing the voices of Kenyans to be heard directly.

However, critics argue a referendum would require substantial logistical planning and might delay the implementation of the government’s affordable housing agenda.

Sifuna also explained that Kenyans do not enjoy settling in informal areas but are led in that direction owing to the low income they receive.

In vouching for this levy on Kenyans, President Ruto explained that 6 million Kenyans reside in slums and are in need of affordable housing. He urged Kenyans to sacrifice their income to ensure their compatriots live in a better environment.

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