President William Ruto now wants a public vote by MPs on the Finance Bill 2023 when it is tabled in Parliament this week as he threatened to deal with MPs who will oppose the bill.
President Ruto, who was speaking at Leshuta in Narok West during a thanksgiving service for Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya, said the public vote will help him identify MPs who are against his development agenda to the people of Kenya.
“I heard a certain MP saying he wants the vote on the Bill to be public, I fully support that, I want Kenyans to know leaders who are against eradicating unemployment, those who will oppose the Finance Bill 2023 are enemies of development,” said President Ruto.
“Mimi nangoja kuona mbunge ambaye anaenda kupinga mpango tuko nao kwa hawa wananchi atasimama wapi (I am waiting to see the MPs who will oppose the Housing Fund levy in the Finance Bill 2023, then Kenyans will know he is an enemy of the people against employing jobless youth through the Housing Fund). I am besieging MPs to pass the Finance Bill 2023 with the Housing Fund levy because it is good for Kenyans,” the President added.
While advocating for the Housing Fund levy, Dr Ruto said the programme will create millions of jobs for Kenya’s youth.
President Ruto said that the implementation of the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) remains key to tackling unemployment in the country.
He said the country needed to take bold decisions to achieve its development agenda.
Lamenting youth unemployment, the head of state said 5 million youths are unemployed, which he said is increasing by 800,000 annually.
“We spend Sh650 billion annually to send our children to school but they do not have jobs, so we must have a comprehensive plan to harness their expertise to drive our country’s economy,” Dr Ruto said.
As part of the Finance Bill 2023, a proposal has been floated that, if implemented, will see Kenyans contribute three per cent of their income, which will be matched by their employers, to enable them to own houses under AHP.
However, the proposal has been met with widespread criticism, with Kenyans complaining that they are already overburdened by taxes.
But President Ruto says the Finance Bill will boost the manufacturing sector of the economy, and has branded the opposition Azimio La Umoja One Kenya as liars and deceivers.
He said opposition leaders tend to agree with the Finance Bill but oppose it for the sake of opposing it.
“During the election campaign, each of us (Azimio/Kenya Kwanza) had housing in our plans, it puzzles me that now that they are in government, they are going back on it,” Ruto said.
He says the housing fund will ensure that 7 million Kenyans living in informal settlements and slums get houses.
He said 60 years ago, Kenya was at par with other countries like Singapore, Korea and Malaysia but now their people have decent houses.
President Ruto also urged the Maasai to shun unnecessary sale of land for the sake of grandeur.
Ms Tuya, who is the former Narok Woman Representative, described her appointment as an honour for the Maa community and more so for pastoral women.
“I thank God for giving me the honour to serve in your government through you. You have shown the world that your government is a class breaker for the otherwise marginalised community,” said Ms Tuya.
She added that her position would inspire Maasai girls, who she says have had their futures cut off by retrogressive cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
Members of Parliament allied to the Kenya Kwanza government have also pledged to pass the Finance Bill when it lands in the National Assembly this week.
Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula urged President Ruto to stand firm amid the raging debate on the Finance Bill.
“You (President) have sworn to protect interests, never be afraid to act and never act out of fear, don’t be distracted by these few noises,” Mr Wetangula advised.
Among those who attended the event were Governors Lati Lelelit (Samburu), Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Cecily Mbarire (Embu) and Bomet’s Prof Hillary Barchok.