Angry MPs Demand Sh10,650 Refund After PSC Deducts January Housing Levy

February 2, 2024

House minority leadership has formally petitioned the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to promptly reimburse Sh4.5 million that was deducted from the January payslips of 418 MPs, representing a 1.5 percent housing levy.

This demand occurs amidst escalating public criticism of the housing levy, which has been described as “controversial, unpopular, punitive, and unconstitutional,” especially during challenging economic conditions.

In his correspondence with National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, who also presides over the PSC, Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi labeled the deductions as unconstitutional.

Wandayi’s assertion is based on last week’s Court of Appeal ruling that directly contradicted the PSC’s action to implement the levy deductions from MPs and parliamentary staff salaries in January 2024.

The court ruled that the levy was unconstitutional, staying earlier orders that stopped the government from making further deductions.

“I am, therefore, writing to seek a commitment from the PSC that it will immediately refund the January 2024 housing levy deductions to Members and PSC staff,” Wandayi stated in his letter, dated February 1, 2024, emphasizing that such deductions are in direct violation of the court’s explicit orders and constitute contempt of court.

The Court of Appeal, comprising judges Lydia Achode, John Mativo, and Mwaniki Gachoka, recently ruled against extending High Court orders that previously permitted the government’s collection of the housing levy pending the outcome of the main appeal.

The High Court had earlier found the levy unconstitutional for its lack of a legal framework and discriminatory nature, targeting only a section of Kenyans in formal employment.

Despite the Court of Appeal’s clear stance against further deductions until the appeal is resolved, the PSC proceeded with the January deductions, prompting Wandayi’s letter.

The situation is further complicated by Speaker Wetang’ula’s decision to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling by filing a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court.

Wandayi also highlighted the importance of adhering to court orders, stressing that compliance is mandatory and not optional, regardless of one’s social status.

He reiterated that parliament is instrumental in upholding the rule of law and democracy, urging the Speaker’s office to safeguard its reputation by adhering to legal mandates.

The salaries of MPs, as determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Committee (SRC), vary based on their leadership roles within the House.

According to a SRC gazette published on July 27, 2022, the Speaker of each house receives a monthly salary of Sh1.2 million, Deputy Speakers earn Sh928,000, while the majority and minority leaders earn Sh968,000. All other MPs take home Sh710,000.

The housing levy deductions affect all members, with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker contributing Sh17,400 and Sh13,920 respectively, and other MPs contributing Sh10,650 each month.

The president has swore to continue with his flagship programme, with new regulations set to be brought to parliament soon. The government believes this will solve the constitutionality problem highlighted by the courts.

Don't Miss