Despite receiving a State-backed mortgage of up to Sh20 million, MPs now want to live in hotels at the expense of taxpayers.
The lawmakers are demanding an accommodation allowance that will allow them sleep, wine and dine in five-star hotels when in the city ‘for legislative business’.
Although the figure for the new allowance was not immediately available, in justifying their demands, the committee benchmarked in New Zealand, where lawmakers are paid up to Sh400,000 every time they are in town, suggesting the kind of perks they are eyeing.
The lawmakers, besides having a mortgage for a city home, enjoy several other benefits that ordinary Kenyans can only dream of. Still, they want more money, which they claim was approved last year but was being held by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
By demanding an accommodation allowance despite being entitled to a low interest mortgage facility, the MPs are essentially seeking double payment for housing.
The push for the new allowance could be a disguised attempt to lessen their burden on servicing the mortgage, which must be repaid by the end of their term.
Since Parliament sits for three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), with some committee meetings scheduled for Mondays — some members sit in two committees — it means that lawmakers will literally be living in hotels.
The cost implications of the new allowance would be enormous considering there are 416 MPs — National Assembly (349) and the Senate (67).
Other privileges they enjoy is a generous medical cover, tax-free pension and a host of other allowances that allow them to carry home more than Sh1 million every month.
Should the MPs win on the demand for accommodation allowance, they will save on the cost of repaying a mortgage, but at the expense of taxpayers, who will have to shoulder all hotel related expenses for the lawmakers.
The details of the MPs’ latest demands are contained in a report of the National Assembly Committee on Members’ Services and Facilities tabled in the House last week, and which lists a raft of other pending demands that the lawmakers want implemented.
“The committee also observed that during the financial year 2018/2019, among other programmes, the commission budgeted for facilitation of members of Parliament accommodation when they come to Nairobi to discharge their legislative work. The committee observed that the said budget may not have been expended and was therefore interested in knowing the status of implementation of the specific allocation,” the report stated.
The report by the committee chaired by Ezekiel Machogu (Nyaribari Masaba), is a follow-up to another one tabled in August last year which had recommendations for MPs to eat well and live large.
The lawmakers are also unhappy that many of the demands in the first report have not been met and are calling for status report from the PSC.
They want answers on the reservation of an exclusive eating zone ‘for members and dignitaries,’ the construction of a gift shop where they can buy presents and the construction of a gym to tone their muscles and keep away pot bellies.
Other demands are the employment of a public health specialist in Parliament to ensure MPs live in healthy environment, the implementation of a lactating mothers’ policy, and the establishment of a committee to ensure all areas of Parliament are clean and well-maintained.
Members are also demanding to know the status of procurement of new uniforms for catering staff, the status of negotiations with Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) on their mileage allowances and progress on the multi-storey office block for MPs, currently under construction.
“The committee observed that, out of the raft of resolutions made by the House, very few had been fully implemented by the commission. The committee is, therefore, concerned and wishes to invoke the provisions of Article 254 (2) of the Constitution and recommend to the National Assembly to require the commission to report on the implementation of the matters contained in the second report of the committee adopted on August 15, 2018,” the report stated.
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