MPs raid your pocket once again for fine food and wine

MPs are at it again and this time they have created a special fund that will ensure they wine and dine in a five-star-like catering facility.

Through the new Parliamentary Catering Fund, legislators will enjoy some of the finest foods and drinks, some of which will be outsourced from high-end hotels.

Besides allowing for the outsourcing of catering services, new regulations developed by the Parliamentary Service Commission will also see chefs and other staff of Parliament’s restaurant and bar trained to international hospitality standards.

And in what is going to overburden the taxpayer, some of the money for these expensive catering services will be “appropriated by Parliament”.

Lavish lifestyles

This means MPs are permitted to finance their lavish lifestyles by simply allocating the fund tax cash, according to the new regulations signed by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on June 24.

National Assembly Clerk Micheal Sialai, who shall administer the fund, told The Standard yesterday that although the regulations allow for the allocation of monies to the fund by Parliament, it will only be done “when it is necessary".

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“Otherwise the fund will generate funds for itself,” Mr Sialai added.

The clerk explained that the creation of the fund was necessitated by the need to have the Senate given an oversight role in the administration of Parliament’s catering facilities.  

The objective of the fund shall be to purchase catering equipment, manage and administer facilities.

The Parliamentary Service Commission, which came up with the regulations, may contract outside catering services.

Members will be both current and former members of Parliament.

The regulations have also established a committee of eight persons from both the Senate and National Assembly who will be responsible for the management of the fund.

“The Commission may if it considers it appropriate and upon advice by the Committee engage such experts or consultants to assist in the discharge of the functions of the Fund upon such terms and conditions as the Committee may determine,” reads part of the Public Finance (Parliamentary Catering Fund) Regulations, 2019.

In November last year, MPs protested what they termed as ‘poorly’ prepared food served in Parliament’s cafeteria, vowing to push for the implementation of a House report that recommended radical changes in catering services.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale led the House in demanding implementation of the changes, protesting the quality of food served to MPs had gone down.

“We must outsource this service. The Legislature cannot do the business of cooking food. This should be given to the right people,” said the Garissa Township MP.

The report was authored by the Committee on Members’ Services and Facilities after bench-marking in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

The team further recommended the construction of two more cafeterias on the ground floor of the Red Cross building. The lawmakers also recommended overhaul renovation of the current kitchen, restaurant, bar, still room and members' lounge.

MPs’ wish-list also included developing a training plan for catering staff based on the proposed skills audit, and the attachment for catering staff in five-star hotels.

They also want toilets adjacent to the main reception in the main building to be cleaned frequently to address the bad smell emanating from there.

But they would later go silent after public outrage, by what they saw as a brazen display of greed and indifference by their representatives.

Earlier this month, the lawmakers were reported to have hurriedly passed through a bill that handed them a raft of allowances including the Sh250,000 house allowance and Sh18,000-Sh24,000 night allowance.

Muturi defended MPs proposal arguing that it will boost their morale and solve the quorum hitches in the House.

The bill is currently awaiting the signature of President Uhuru Kenyatta to become law.

Should it be effected legislators will be pampered with such special treatments as having a room for visitors, a bevvy of research assistants, uninterrupted internet connectivity and a room for parliamentary parties to caucus.

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Parliamentary Catering FundAden DualeNational Assembly Speaker Justin MuturiPresident Uhuru Kenyatta