House team okays bid for MPs’ appointment to cabinet slots

Kikuyu member of parliament Kimani Ichungwa, Jubilee has launched a scathing attack at NASA leadership accusing them of being captives of corruption cartels that bankroll their campaigns taken on July  7, 2017. [Wilberforce Okwiri/Standard]

The push to facilitate appointment of MPs to the Cabinet has progressed in Parliament.

This after the Budget and Appropriations Committee approved two Bills to amend the Constitution to remove the requirement that Cabinet Secretaries are not MPs.

MPs Vincent Kimose (West Mugirango) and William Kamket (Tiaty) have sponsored the two separate Bills that were endorsed by the committee chaired by Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) on Tuesday evening.

Mr Kimose has sponsored the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to amend Article 152 (3) of the Constitution, stating that a CS shall not be an MP.

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Also, the Bill proposes to cap the number of CSs to 14 by amending Article 152(1) that states CSs will not be fewer than 14 and not more than 22.

“The objective of the Bill is to reduce the bloated wage bill and ensure MPs have an opportunity to ask CSs in the House questions on issues affecting their constituencies,” Kemosi says, also proposing that the title “Cabinet Secretary” be changed to “Cabinet Minister”.

The Parliamentary Budget Office says the change will require a referendum, as it will affect the functions of Parliament. The office projects that a referendum would cost Sh15 billion. If Cabinet is picked from MPs, it will save Kenyans Sh223 million every year.

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Another Bill approved by the committee is one by Mr Kamket, which also proposes that Cabinet Secretaries be picked from MPs.

Additionally, it proposes creation of the office of the Prime Minister to run the Government and a ceremonial President as well as reintroduction of the Leader of the Opposition. 

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The House must however marshal two-thirds majority to pass the two Bills, whose provisions have the effect of altering the system of Government from presidential to hybrid.

A hybrid model is a mix of presidential and parliamentary systems, in which the electorate directly elects a President as the head of Government and MPs as lawmakers, from whom ministers are appointed.

Mr Ichung’wa said the committee had received the advice from the Budget office and was in consultation with the National Treasury on the financial implications.

“The committee’s mandate is to consider money bills. We do not go into legalising of the Bill but focus on the financial implications,” explained Ichung’wa on the telephone.

According to the Budget office, functions of Parliament fall under the protected clauses that can only be changed through a referendum. The situation analysis, therefore states that appointing CSs from Parliament will reduce the number of State officers.

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“There will be cost saving in terms of security personnel and travel costs. It may also require a referendum to cost Sh15 billion. An MP appointed CS will earn additional Sh400,000 as responsibility allowance,” reads the advisory from budget office.

“The cost to implementation of the Bill will require Sh15 billion one-off for referendum and annual savings of Sh223.7 million.”

A CS earns Sh924,000 as monthly gross remuneration. The annual cost of 22 CSs from Parliament will cost Sh105.6 million, against the current 22 CSs’ Sh243.9 million.

In terms of pension, the office noted it would cost taxpayers Sh85.4 million less for the current CSs.

The Budget office observed that having MPs as CSs will mean having the Executive partly in the House and therefore no distinct separation of powers as envisaged in law.

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It said an MP doubling as a CS would affect his constituency.

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MPsConstitutionParliamentCabinet secretaries