Despite initially stating that the acquisition of a Huduma Number was not a mandatory exercise, the government is seeking to enact a law that will make it compulsory for Kenyans to present the number in order to access crucial government services.
The Huduma Number Bill of 2019 seeks to amend clauses in the Tax Procedures Act of 2015, The Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act of 2011, The Refugees Act of 2008, The NHIF Act of 1988, The Election Act of 2011, The Marriage Act of 2014 and The Children Act of 2001.
As such, the proposed bill by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’I will make it compulsory for Kenyans to present the number when applying for a driver’s license and passport, when remitting taxes to the taxman and when opening a bank account. Similarly, the number will be required when registering a phone number, enlisting as a voter, opening a company, getting electricity connection, enrolling into a public school and accessing universal health care.
The draft bill also proposes for new born babies to be issued with the number three months after birth with late registrations attracting a penalty while failure to register a birth will attract a penalty of Ksh. 1 million or a one year jail term.
In cases of death, the bill proposes to have the huduma number and card retired and revoked. Failure to register a death will lead to a fine of Ksh. 2 million or a two year jail term. It will similarly be an offense to destroy the Huduma card and doing so will attract a three year jail term or a fine of Ksh. 3 million.
The government has given Kenyans a two week time frame, beginning next week Thursday, to forward their feedback on the proposed bill upon which it will be tabled before parliament. Should parliament pass the bill it will be forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta to assent it into law.