Kenya: Francis Atwoli Stays Adamant On Housing Levy Plan

17 January 2019

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli has reiterated the unions' opposition regarding the 1.5 percent housing tax mooted by the government.

Mr Atwoli faulted the tax scheme, which the national government says will be deducted from each employee's basic salary and remitted to the National Housing Development Fund (NHDF), saying it is too heavy a burden for Kenyan workers to bear.

Noting that there is a lack of clarity on how the tax was arrived at, Mr Atwoli said the union would engage the government over it.

"As Cotu, we remain a politically neutral organisation and support President Uhuru Kenyatta's initiatives. However, our members have decided to reject the proposals.

"We have even already filed for contempt of court following an advertisement by the State Department of Housing on an advisory board for NHDF; there are court injunctions halting the entire programme," Mr Atwoli said.

DIRECTORATE

Even if the programme is to be implemented after the renegotiation, Mr Atwoli said a directorate should be constituted to oversee and protect the funds collected from the housing tax, to curb pilfering.

"We do not wish to have cases of the funds going the National Social Security Fund way, or the way of other graft scandals in the country," he said.

At the same time, Mr Atwoli stated the union's members' resolve to start a new pension scheme if the government still stalls or fails to gazette Cotu and Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) representatives in the NSSF board.

WAGES

He also called for the immediate gazettement and implementation of the five percent increase on minimum wage for workers, as directed by President Kenyatta and announced by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani on May 1 last year.

"We would not wish to have the CS attend our Labour Day celebrations later this year, if that decree is not gazetted and implemented soon," Mr Atwoli said.

And, voicing Cotu's support for the Building Bridges Initiative, Mr Atwoli lauded the peace pact between Opposition chief Raila Odinga and the President.

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