Kenya: Housing Fund Contribution a Moral Obligation, Backers Are Patriots - President Ruto

Nairobi — President William Ruto has termed contributing to the proposed Housing Fund as a moral obligation for Kenyans in formal employment.

Speaking Thursday when he presided over the 60th anniversary to mark the country's attainment of internal self-rule -- Madaraka Day -- in Embu, President Ruto said supporting the initiative is a patriotic duty for every Kenyan.

Ruto who acknowledged opposition to the plan termed the vibrant public debate on the matter as a pointer to stakeholder-driven public engagement even as he pledged transparency if the initiative goes through.

"There is a fundamental level at which we are morally obligated to think about our duties to the unemployed youth, vulnerable communities struggling in slums and other people at risk of exclusion.

Their struggle for dignity as human beings appeals to our duty of moral consideration," Ruto said.

The Head of State went o to add: "We did not fight for independence to relegate our innocent compatriots to a life of suffering, exclusion and indignity in slums."

Arresting unemployment crisis

Ruto's remarks came amid heavy criticism from the Raila Odinga-led and fromer President Uhuru Kenyatta-backed Azimio opposition.

However, the President highlighted the potential complications that arise when vulnerable members of society struggle to make a living, stating that addressing their welfare is essential for the betterment of society as a whole.

Ruto said through national unity, Kenya could unlock immense potential.

He drew parallels to efforts by freedom fighters who made sacrifices for the sake of fellow countrymen and future generations.

"Those earning Sh200,000 monthly will pay only KSh 2,500 to a fund that helps create jobs for millions of youth and brings a meal on the tables of many hustlers," Ruto said.

The Head of State stated that the vision for the Affordable Housing Programme is premised firstly on the economic objective of creating a million direct and indirect employment opportunities throughout every value chain in the housing development ecosystem.

"A single housing unit is capable of employing 3-5 workers directly, and an additional 8 workers indirectly, in the manufacturing of construction products, transport and logistics," he said.

Ruto stated that the Affordable Housing Programme is an intervention to support the local construction industry, including the Jua Kali sector, to create high quality and competitive opportunities for manufacturers and jobs for citizens.

Productivity boost

By catalysing the construction of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units, Ruto said that the government shall also be stimulating productivity and competitiveness in the manufacture of cement, steel, paint, nails, ballast, timber, roofing materials, windows and doors, among many other products.

"In enhancing Kenya's industrial productivity, our export performance will increase and have a positive impact on our balance of trade, employment creation and the growth of wealth," he added.

Ruto said availing Kenyan industrial output to the continent will unleash vast untapped potential.

He added that the second objective of the Affordable Housing Programme is to increase the number of homeowners and transition more Kenyans from rent-paying to homeownership.

Ruto went on to say that the Affordable Housing Programme aims at enabling persons at the bottom of the pyramid -- the mama mbogas (vegetable venders) -- access to affordable mortgage and embark on a journey towards home ownership.

"The housing programme will raise the bar in terms of quality at the bottom," he said.

Ruto asked Kenyans to remain vigilant and guard against graft even as he vowed zero tolerance to the vice in public sector adding public resources must "solely and exclusively [be utilized] for purposes that serve the interests of the people."

He pledged to use all instruments and authority at his disposal to curb waste and theft.

"I will not permit greed, lawlessness or impunity," Ruto said.

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