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MPs in secret payment deal

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Updated Saturday, April 21st 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

By ALEX NDEGWA

Members of Parliament will stick their hands into the public pocket one last time as they prepare to leave the National Assembly.

As accusations of petty bribery arose over the just-passed Finance Bill, it has emerged that the law included a secret ¡®golden handshake¡¯ that may have helped persuade MPs to drop their fight for better terms for Kenyan borrowers. The deal was sealed after MPs were treated to two expensive luncheons in Nairobi. The MPs voted Wednesday to give themselves a tidy Sh3.7 million each as a gratuity at the end of the tenure of the Tenth Parliament. This is more than double the current severance pay.

Parliament in session. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Following increases by the Eighth Parliament, MPs are also eligible for life-long pensions and other retirement benefits. The amount proposed as payment to outgoing MPs is a huge increment from the Sh1.5 million paid out to each member of the last Parliament. The Ninth Parliament outraged the public when they approved a severance allowance at the rate of Sh300,000 for every year in service, translating to Sh1.5 million.

The pay increment is likely to be challenged in court as MPs are seen to have illegally taken over the role of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. It was passed as an amendment to the Financial Bill MPs had held up on the pretext they wanted to force through a cap on bank interest rates. Parliamentary officials advised against the amendment citing the conflict with the role of the commission but were ignored, The Standard On Saturday has learned.

With public protests likely, attention shifts to

President Kibaki who must sign the Bill into law for the new perks to take effect.

The hefty send-off package MPs handed themselves on Wednesday night covers all 222 members and will cost taxpayers Sh825 million. Millions more will be paid out in other allowances to various groups.

The lawmakers gave Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim Sh2.4 million per year in parliamentary responsibility allowance, to be backdated to 2008 when he assumed office. This means the taxpayer already owes him Sh9.6 million in arrears. The four members of the Speaker¡¯s panel ¨C MPs Gitobu Imanyara, Joyce Laboso, Ekwe Ethuro and Phillip Kaloki ¨C will also get Sh1.2 million each for every year served.

Parliamentary Service Commission members were handed Sh1.2 million each in parliamentary responsibility allowance for every year served. The commissioners had not been getting the allowance, which is paid out to the President, Prime Minister, Vice-President, House Speaker, Cabinet ministers and assistant ministers.

Backdated payments

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