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Attorney-General Justin Muturi Deals Housing Levy a Fatal Blow



In the ongoing saga surrounding the housing levy, Attorney-General Justin Muturi delivered a significant blow on Wednesday by declaring the levy unconstitutional and barred the Kenya Revenue Authority from collecting the tax from 26 January 2024. This decision, coupled with the High Court’s previous ruling on its illegality and the Court of Appeal’s subsequent confirmation of that finding, has dealt a severe setback to President William Ruto’s ambitious housing project.

The housing levy, which was introduced as part of the government’s efforts to address the country’s housing deficit, has been mired in controversy right out of the gate. Critics have raised concerns about its legality and implementation, leading to legal challenges and public outcry.

Attorney-General Muturi’s declaration on 28 February marks a decisive moment in the ongoing debate over the housing levy. In his statement, Muturi cited the lack of legal provisions empowering KRA’s collection of the tax, effectively rendering the levy illegal and unenforceable.

This pronouncement comes after a series of legal battles surrounding the housing levy. In a landmark ruling, the High Court declared the levy unconstitutional, citing procedural irregularities and a lack of public participation in its implementation. The Court of Appeal subsequently upheld the High Court’s decision, affirming the levy’s illegality.

The implications of Attorney-General Muturi’s decision are significant. With the housing levy deemed unconstitutional, the government’s ability to finance its ambitious housing project is now in jeopardy. The levy was intended to generate revenue for the construction of affordable housing units across the country, aimed at addressing the acute shortage of housing for Kenyans.

However, the legality of the levy has been called into question from the outset. Critics argue that the government failed to follow proper legislative procedures in enacting the levy and did not adequately consult with stakeholders before its implementation. These concerns have been echoed by the Judiciary, which has twice ruled decisively against the levy’s legality.

In response to Muturi’s declaration, there have been mixed reactions from various quarters. Supporters of the housing project expressed disappointment and frustration, viewing the decision as a setback for the government’s efforts to tackle the housing crisis. However, opponents of the levy welcomed the ruling as a victory for the rule of law and constitutional governance.

Moving forward, the fate of the housing levy remains uncertain. While the Attorney-General’s pronouncement effectively halts KRA collecting the levy, it also raises questions about the government’s next steps. Will there be efforts to amend existing legislation to address the legal concerns? Or will the government pursue alternative funding mechanisms for its housing project? After all, President Ruto had promised that Affordable Housing would go ahead regardless in the wake of the Judiciary drawing first blood.

As the debate over the housing levy continues, one thing is clear: Attorney-General Justin Muturi’s declaration has brought the legality of the levy into sharp focus, underscoring the importance of adherence to constitutional principles and due process in governance.