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More deductions as housing levy comes into effect : The Standard

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If you are in formal employment in Kenya, your April pay slip will reflect a new statutory deduction of 1.5 per cent to the National Housing Development Fund. The funds will go towards financing the government’s affordable housing program under Big Four Agenda. 

In a public notice carried by a section of the media this week, Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development ministry in conjunction with Kenya Revenue Authority also require employers to match the employee’s contribution by a similar margin. Total deductions to the Housing Fund Levy should not exceed Sh5, 000.
The joint contributions should hit the taxman’s coffers by May 9, 2019. The deductions come in the wake an amendment to the Employment Act through the Finance Bill, 2018.
“Employers are required to deduct and remit the levy together with other statutory levies from both the employer and employee by the 9th of each succeeding month together with other statutory deductions,” stated the notice.
An individual can also a make a minimum of Sh200 donation to the scheme. 
For individuals earning less than Sh50,000 per month will acquire the affordable homes under a tenant purchase scheme.  On the other hand, those earning over Sh50,000 will qualify for a 7 per cent mortgage repayable within 15 years.
“In case of ineligibility for a home, the contribution may be transferred to a pension scheme, another person under the scheme or as cash to self, spouse or dependent child,” reads the notice.
The regulations were to be affected beginning January 1, 2019. However this ran into headwinds when COTU, the umbrella workers body went to court in December last year to oppose the regulations citing lack of proper discussions between the government and the workers body.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court granted COTU’s prayers by suspending the levy pending more consultations.
In a quick rejoinder on Twitter, Federation of Kenya Employers CEO Jackline Mugo dismissed the new directive, terming them “unlawful.”
“FKE attended Court on 8/4/2019, obtained an extension of Court Orders suspending the implementation of the Housing Levy up to 20/5/2019,” she tweeted.
The government intends to construct 100,000 houses per year under the scheme in order to bring down the backlog that currently stands at 200,000 houses annually.

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Housing Fund LevyBig Four AgendaNational Housing Development Fund



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No decision yet on when schools will open, says Magoha

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By FAITH NYAMAI

Learning institutions will not reopen on June 4 as was earlier scheduled, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said.

Speaking after he received an interim report from the 10-member Education Response Committee on Covid-19 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development yesterday, Prof Magoha said schools will remain closed until the Covid-19 situation is contained.

“Parents should prepare to stay with their children longer until the health situation in the country stabilises. As at now, I cannot say when schools will resume. For me timelines and national exams are not a priority, they can even stay until January,” Prof Magoha said.

The Ministry of Health projected that the rates of Covid-19 infections are likely to hit a peak in August-September.

“The ministry takes these projections seriously, especially in view of the fact that more than 359 of our schools are currently designated as quarantine and isolation centres.”

The CS asked parents to be prepared to face the reality of an extended closure of schools.

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He said the government cannot sacrifice the health of children for the sake of an education that can wait to be offered later, when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed.

“The ministry will desist from focusing on schools’ reopening dates and instead give priority to putting in place solid mitigation measures.”

Prof Magoha downplayed some of the recommendations of the task force and said the report is too preliminary to be acted on.

The ministry, he said, will review the report before advising the country on the steps to be taken regarding the academic calendar and the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools.

“There are several committees set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the response to the pandemic. I will look into the report and we will have to remove some of the recommendations made by the Education task force and retain others.”

The ministry of Education, he said, will table some of the proposals before the National Emergency Response Committee this weekend for further consultations to inform the decision on reopening schools

“These consultations will also take into consideration the fact that the current government restrictions announced by President Kenyatta will expire on June 6,” he said.

Details in the committee’s report revealed that the team is proposing that this year’s national examinations be pushed to a date not earlier than February next year.

Credible sources on the committee also revealed they have advised that schools be reopened in September.

The report prepared by the Dr Sarah Ruto-chaired committee recommends that the Ministry of Education change the academic calendar to start in September and provide all resources required to keep schools running.

Other recommendations are that school funds that were meant for first term, second and third term should be released in whole in September once classes resume.

Prof Magoha, who seemed to have disagreed with some of the details of the report, said the decision to reopen schools should not be hastened.

He said even though Covid-19 may linger, the ministry has started putting in place measures to ensure children are safeguarded and high levels of hygiene are maintained in schools.

“We will start putting water in our schools and put all the other measures in place for both learners and teachers,” he said.

On private schools, the CS said all learning institutions are closed and those enrolling learners for second term are going against the ministry’s regulations.

He, however, said parents who choose to pay for their children to attend online classes should do it voluntarily.

“Private schools depend on parents and those that have their children studying online should pay,” he said.

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 Nation, DTB help needy families

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By JOSEPH OPENDA

Hannah Muthoni, 39, has not smiled for months. The hard economic times occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic has made life unbearable for her and her family.

When the disease was first reported in the country, she was among the first people to feel its pinch. She was among the casual labourers who were laid off when the flower firm she was working for grounded operations after the government announced containment measures to stem its spread.

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Since then, the mother of seven has been depending on her relatives for help to provide for her family.

But she smiled yesterday, thanks to the initiative by the Nation Media Group (NMG) Board chairman Wilfred Kiboro and Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) to provide relief food for the vulnerable community members.

Ms Muthoni was among the 4,000 residents of Subukia who benefited from the relief food worth over Sh1 million, which was distributed across the three wards in the constituency.

She could not hide her joy after receiving her relief package.

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“It has been a very difficult period for me since my husband and I were sent home from work due to the pandemic. Getting food on the table has been a matter of luck. But, with this package, I’m assured of a meal for two weeks,” said Ms Muthoni.

Dr Kiboro said he took the initiative to look for donors to assist the families who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.He said DTB came in handy and agreed to support the initiative.

“Subukia is my rural home and I realised that most families are suffering in silence. I therefore took it upon myself to use the connections that I have to mobilise support. I thank DTB for supporting the initiative,” said Dr Kiboro.

He called on individuals and corporate organisations that can help to join in the donations to help the vulnerable members of the society.

“This is just a matter of standing up to be counted. I believe everyone can give something to help a neighbour who is in need. I urge everyone to support these families,” said Dr Kiboro.

DTB Nakuru branch manager Lucy Rotich said the bank is committed to supporting poor families in the times of need.

“As DTB, we want to stand in solidarity with our clients in all times since we understand that most people are affected by this pandemic,” said Ms Rotich.

Magdalena Nthenya who was among the beneficiaries, thanked the bank for the donations, saying that it was timely.

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Raphael Lekolool appointed Postbank Managing Director

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Postbank Board of Directors’ Chairman, Mr. Ntoros Baari Ole Senteu, Friday announced the appointment of Raphael Lekolool as the new Postbank Managing Director effective June 1, 2020.

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This follows the retirement of Ms. Anne Karanja from the Postbank after serving in the position of Managing Director for the last six years.

Prior to this appointment, Anne had served in different senior management positions in the same Bank.

In his role as the Managing Director, Mr.Lekolool will be riding on a strong foundation of the existing customer base and digital platforms in pursuit of growing the Bank’s market share while executing the Bank’s strategic Plan.

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The financial world is going digital and one of Postbanks’s priority areas is to exploit technology to ensure customers can handle most of their financial transactions online.

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With his vastexperience in banking, micro finance and insurance sectors, Lekolool is well placed to drive the Bank’s business to the next level while offering customer driven products.

“I have full confidence that my successor, Mr. Lekolool will steer Postbank to greater heights. I take this opportunity to wish him a successful tenure.” said Ms. Karanja.

“We appreciate the stewardship of Ms. Anne Karanja which kept Postbank focused on inculcating a savings culture among Kenyans.” reflected Mr. Baari Ole Senteu, the Board Chairman. “We wish her well in her endeavors as she continues serving the nation in different capacity”added Mr. Senteu.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Lekolool was the Enterprise Risk Manager at UAP, Old Mutual and Head of Internal Audit at Faulu Microfinance.

He is an MBA graduate of Cardiff Business School and holds a BSc. Degree in Banking from University of Manchester.

 

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