Investor pledges in affordable housing plan hit Sh2.6 trillion
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s flagship low-cost housing plan has received investment pledges running into Sh2.613 trillion ($26 billion), Parliament has been told.“We have received investment offers of $26 billion from all over the world towards affordable housing,” Charles Hinga, the Housing Principal Secretary told a session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).Affordable housing, food security, manufacturing and universal healthcare are the four development pillars that Mr Kenyatta’s administration pledged to focus on during his second and final term in office. The housing plan has, however, run into headwinds after the High Court in December suspended implementation of the 1.5 percent levy that was to be charged on workers’ monthly pay to create a housing fund.Justice Hellen Wasilwa suspended the levy, which was to take effect on January 1, following an application by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), which is opposed to the levy on grounds that the public did not participate in its creation and there is no guarantee of transparency during its implementation.Mr Hinga told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that the ministry had reached an out-of-court settlement with Cotu, which has agreed to withdraw the case that is pending in court.“There was a court injunction with respect to commencement of deductions but we have since reached an out-of-court settlement with Cotu. They have withdrawn the case but the official filling in court will be on 23 or 24 of this month,” Mr Hinga said.Molo MP Kuria Kimani had sought to know the progress made on the housing levy when Mr Hinga appeared before PAC to respond to audit queries.Mr Hinga said the ministry had published and tabled in Parliament regulations needed to operationalise the levy and as soon as the House approves them, deductions will commence.“We appeared before the Delegated Committee last week to defend the regulations. As soon as the House approves them, we will commence with the deductions. We have had development framework approved by the Cabinet. In fact we closed window one yesterday,” Mr Hinga told MPs.