Ruto has said the policy is not only for government employees, but other Kenyans whose employers will be obliged to give the same 3% to the long-term project.
He said the move is part of his administration’s plan to enable more Kenyans to acquire their own homes. “We want Kenyans to buy houses under the affordable housing project from their income,” he said.
According to Ruto, his government’s plan is to increase the number of mortgages in the country from the current 40,000 to more than 2 million.
With a target of 100,000 affordable houses in Nairobi every year, and eradicating slums in the capital and other cities, Ruto said the housing project will benefit the youths.
“This project will also help create employment for our young people,” he said.
Workers reject Ruto’s policy
However, unions representing civil servants have come out strongly in opposition to Ruto’s policy, describing it as heartless.
The Kenya National Union of Teacher (KNUT) has condemned the move saying they were not consulted.
KNUT says if the government proceeds to implement it, its members will head to the Labour court to seek legal redress.
“We will not accept this deduction. It’s unfair,” says Collins Oyuu, secretary general of the teachers’ union.
He adds that teachers want their salaries increased, not deducted. “We are still waiting for our increment. Our pay has remained the same for many years,” he said.
Unions want Ruto to withdraw the policy immediately, failure to which they will call for strikes and demonstrations across the country.
“We condemn this heartless and insensitive policy,” says Charles Mukhwaya, secretary general of the Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU).
Mukhwaya has accused Ruto’s government of insensitivity to the plight of workers and is calling for more consultations on how to implement such a policy.
Stop over-taxing Kenyans
The opposition has also criticised Ruto for introducing the policy, which will increase the tax burden for Kenyans amidst tough economic times.
Edwin Sifuna, the opposition’s deputy minority whip in the Senate, says Kenya’s working class needs a break from Ruto’s proposed taxation policies.
“You can choose to milk one cow till it just tilts and tips and stumbles to earth,” he said on Twitter.
The working class in this country need and deserve a break. There is such a thing as death by taxation! You can choose to milk one cow till it just tilts and tips and “stumbles to earth” as Eminem put it, or grow the herd and get a litre from each. The KK regime seems to prefer… pic.twitter.com/rfn5fAGflYApril 24, 2023
Ruto’s announcement comes a few days after he admitted that his government is struggling to pay salaries for civil servants due to financial challenges resulting from huge international debts.
Kevin Ochol, a Nairobi-based political analyst, tells The Africa Report that though Ruto’s plans might be genuine, the timing is wrong.
“With the admission that you are struggling to pay salaries, how do you come up with this unpopular policy now?” he says.
Ochol adds that the opposition will now capitalise on Ruto’s announcement to call on government workers to join in the upcoming street protests expected to resume in May.
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