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MPs raise their pension cheque by 700 per cent

By Frankline Sunday | Published Tue, May 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 8th 2018 at 00:06 GMT +3

A motion by Parliament last year to pay one-term legislators who failed to retain their seats in 2017 General Election pushes retirement bill higher. [Photo: Courtesy]

Taxpayers will pay members of Parliament Sh1.7 billion between July 1, 2018 and June 2019.

This marks a 700 per cent increase from the Sh262 million paid out in the current financial year.

The figure is expected to hit Sh2.7 billion by July 2020, expanding the country’s wage bill to new highs.

The grim pension budget spending is highlighted in the National Budget estimates for 2018/19 released by Treasury that also revealed billions in unfunded pension liabilities owed to the country's public servants.

According to the report, Kenyan taxpayers will pay more than Sh15 billion in additional pensions during the next financial year as the burden of supporting the country’s retired public servants continues to rise.

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The biggest chunk of the additional pension bill will go to one-off payments for the 196 members of Parliament (MPs) who lost their seats in last year’s General Election.

“The total number of retirees is projected to rise from 19,300 in the current financial year to 19,800 in the 2018/2019 financial year,” stated Treasury in the budget statement tabled in Parliament last week.

“Consequently the total pension payments are projected to rise from the estimated Sh71.8 billion in the current financial year to Sh86 billion in the 2018/19 financial year and Sh104 billion in the following year.”

The additional budgetary allocation follows a motion by Parliament last year to pay one-term MPs who failed to retain their seats in last years’ General Election Sh18.8 million each in lieu of pension.

According to the Parliamentary Pensions Act, once Parliament is dissolved, MPs who have served at least two terms and attained the age of 45 years and above are eligible to draw pension.

The legislators last year formed a three-member committee made up of Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), Rehema Jaldesa (Isiolo Woman Rep) and Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate) to review and approve pensions, gratuities, and other allowances for former MPs.

“There is a huge number of pending pension applications lodged by members of the 11th Parliament that should be considered by this committee. This backlog stands at 160 applications that need to be disposed of,” said House Majority Leader Aden Duale during a debate brought to the floor by the pensions committee last November.

Monthly pensions paid out to other civil servants have also gone up from Sh23.7 billion to Sh26.7 billion, representing a 13 per cent increase. Monthly pensions to military officers have also gone up by 15 per cent, from Sh6.3 billion to Sh7.3 billion.

The increased allocation for MPs' pension comes amid a legal dispute between the lawmakers and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) over proposals to slash their salaries and mileage allowances.

Last year, the SRC proposed slashing salaries of MPs and the Executive to tame the country’s wage bill that takes up more than half of the country’s recurrent expenditure.

In the proposals, SRC capped MPs’ salaries at Sh621,250 and scrapped plenary sitting allowances. This is 14 per cent less than the Sh710,000 basic salary MPs currently earn.

The lawmakers, through the Parliamentary Service Commission, have, however, gone to court to block the implementation of the new salary scales and accused the SRC of not following proper procedure while making the review.

The case is set for hearing next Thursday.

The SRC is currently without commissioners after the six-year term of the inaugural 11-member team lapsed this year.

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2017, has proposed making the commissioners permanent in the fashion of State parastatals, with the board elected by the President.

The Bill also proposes amending the Kenya Defence Forces Act, 2012, to make it easier for military officers and their dependants to get pension.


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