Kenya’s lawmakers among the highest paid in the world have plotted how they will arm-twist President Uhuru Kenya on a bill enhancing their perks and allowances.
When they finally get their way and pass the controversial Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, MPs would get the greenlight to award themselves enhanced travel allowances, official vehicle, house allowance and a superior medical cover for their extended families.
Members of the National Assembly, some of the world’s highest-paid legislators, are plotting to gang up against President Uhuru Kenya and get their increased perks and allowances.
The servant-leaders can muster a two-thirds majority to override his veto, or memorandum of objections. They say they can even muster a three-quarters super-majority to pass the Bill yet again if necessary.
Yesterday they delayed passage of Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018 that would expand benefits,a day after Uhuru said he will not sign it. The Bill was supposed to have been passed by yesterday before the MPs’ long Christmas recess. However, it was not listed as business to be transacted by the House yesterday.
When they finally get their way and pass the controversial Bill, MPs will award themselves enhanced travel allowances, another official vehicle, house allowance and superior medical cover for their wives and extended families. Furthermore, the requirement for a two-thirds majority to overturn a presidential objection memorandum is expected to give MPs an easy ride in their quest for more privileges.
In the face of public backlash and rebuke from Uhuru, they are determined to defeat his memorandum. Opposition leader Raila Odinga also has objected to the bloated benefits. The lawmakers yesterday pledged to muster a super-majority to pass the bill a second time, should the head of state reject it.
Analysts have warned that the push for a public participation kitty was a ploy by legislators to award themselves more hefty perks. MPs are already entitled to mileage reimbursements whenever they travel to their constituencies, depending on the distance. They are also the patrons of the National Government Constituency Development Fund through which every constituency is allocated at least Sh100 million annually.
The Star has also established that MPs currently locked out of the mileage reimbursements by the SRC could start pocketing the money like their colleagues, with the PSC having the powers to approve that. MPs from the Nairobi metropolitan area — Kiambu, Nairobi, Kiambu and Kajiado counties — are not entitled to mileage allowances.
Previously the PSC has busted MPs submitting fictitious mileage claim, thus pocketing millions of shillings they are not entitled to. Auditor General Edward Ouko warned that travel allowances were being abused.
Even more disturbing, nominated MPs, who do not represent any elective constituency, claim mileage allowances. They could also end up pocketing the money as MPs push for ‘rationalisation’ of mileage allowances.
“No MP is more equal than another. MPs from the Nairobi metropolitan must be paid mileage allowances. That will end the culture of looking for handouts,” MP Simba Arati from Nairobi county said.
On November 27, the controversial Bill sailed through the Second Reading — a crucial stage where MPs unanimously backed it — paving the way for its subsequent passage and assent.
It was expected the Bill would be tabled in the House yesterday for its Third Reading — in which the House plenary would pass the proposed amendments and vote — but the House Business Committee did not slot it in the order paper.
This means that the Third Reading will take place when MPs resume business after a two-month-long recess. The House adjourned yesterday until February 11, 2019. After the National Assembly passes the bill, it will be forwarded to the Senate for concurrence before it is sent to the President for assent.
However, MPs have warned that should senators reject it, then they will lock them out of the PSC. While ironically the same House last week failed to take a vote on the Gender Bill on the two-thirds gender rule for lack of quorum, MPs are likely to troop to the House in February to easily pass the perks Bill.
On Tuesday, the MPs on the House floor accused the media of misleading the public through propaganda. Leader of Majority Aden Duale, his Minority counterpart John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed clarified that the Bill does not call for increase of MPs’ salaries, only benefits.
Duale told the media to read and understand the Bill before perpetuating “the greed narrative”. “What we read in the media nowadays is propaganda. They are no longer professional,” Mbadi said.
Junet said,“The media has gone to the extent of misleading both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the bill. Today I explained to Raila what the Bill entails and he could not believe it.”