• Raila is now leading a campaign against the push by Ruto to introduce the housing levy.
• He has maintained that the project should not be pushed on Kenyans who are already overtaxed.
Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga had in the run-up to the last general elections vowed to introduce a housing levy if elected President.
Then Azimio presidential candidate, Raila said he would reintroduce retired president Uhuru Kenyatta's housing fund that was shot down in 2018.
Raila lauded the housing levy as a game-changer in the country that would create a solid fund for affordable homes for millions of Kenyans.
"That was a very good policy, I want to revive it, where an employee will be contributing 1.5 per cent and the employer 1.5 per cent that will go into a pool of funds that can enable us to roll out massive housing development in our country," he said.
Raila spoke in May 2022 in Kisumu during the groundbreaking of Makasembo Estate where LAPFUND was constructing modern houses.
The levy had attracted opposition from trade unions led by COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli when President Uhuru tried to introduce it in 2018.
“I have talked to the head of COTU, Francis Atwoli and he has assured me that they will cooperate with us," Raila said in 2022.
“What is being done here today is basically responding to the needs of the large percentage of our people who have moved from rural areas as urbanization continues to escalate."
Atwoli is currently behind the government's push to introduce the levy to fund the affordable housing project for Kenyans.
President William Ruto is currently pushing for the levy in the Finance Bill, 2023 that he says will enable him to put up affordable homes for Kenyans.
The President on Tuesday rallied MPs allied to his Kenya Kwanza alliance to back his radical tax proposals including the 3 per cent housing levy.
He was then deputy President when the same levy was shot down.
Ruto's push has triggered resistance from the opposition, with Raila saying the move will overtax Kenyans who are already reeling.
While addressing the media last week, Raila said no Kenyan should be forced to invest, but rather have a choice on what they want to contribute.
"If I want to invest, I must have a choice, I should not be forced to invest. You must ask me if I want to invest or not, there must be a choice and consultations," he said.
"We must agree that when you tax people to build houses, first ask them to know if they are willing to get taxed and why should you tax someone who has a house?"
The Opposition chief added that some Kenyans already have houses and should not be subjected to the levy.
Under the proposed levy, Kenyans in formal employment would have to contribute 1.5 per cent of their basic salary as a housing levy while employers will match that.
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