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Kenyan MPs plot hefty pension for life from 1963

By Alphonce Shiundu | July 31st 2015

Nairobi: All current and former MPs since 1963 will soon each be entitled to a Sh100,000 pension every month if a powerful committee of the National Assembly that allocates the billions in the national budget has its way.

Yesterday, Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi requested the Budget and Appropriations Committee for a taxfree pension that will ensure that anyone who has ever had the tag  ‘Honourable’ enjoys a luxurious retirement.

The retired lawmakers have sent Mr Wamunyinyi, who is back in the National Assembly after five years in the political cold, to push for the amendment to the Parliamentary Pensions Act, so that any MP who has served for even one term is maintained by taxpayers in their retirement.

The Sh100,000 pension willbenefit at least 371 former MPs, meaning that every month, the taxpayer will part with Sh37.1 million, and every year, they will pay Sh445 million to make sure their counterparts who were kicked out of the House at elections enjoy hefty perks for the rest of their lives.

Taxpayers might be forced to dig deeper into their pockets at the end of every parliamentary term should the MPs not make it back. Currently, there are 416 legislators (349 in the National Assembly and 67 senators). The law as it is right now allows only those who have served for two terms to earn a pension, but Wamunyinyi's amendment wants even those who have served for a single term to benefit.

The Former Parliamentarians Association has been battling in court to have a pension bill for retired MPs slapped on the taxpayer. The courts have upheld the arguments. The basis of their call for more money is in the report of the Tribunal to Review the Terms and Conditions of Service of Members and Employees of the Kenya National Assembly, also known as the Akiwumi Report.

"We went to court and this is what Justice David Majanja said about former MPs '...They have served their country and it is only fair that due consideration is given to their plight to enable them live in dignity'," Wamunyinyi (pictured) told the committee.

Wamunyinyi said the court was very clear that the current Parliament had to implement the proposal in the Akiwumi tribunal report that said the retired lawmakers who make less than Sh100,000 are paid that much a month for the rest of their lives.

The MP said all the current MPs had to know they were not immune to a life in penury, like their 319 colleagues who are suffering on meagre pensions.

"Sitting MPs must realise membership of the House is through the grace and favour of the people and once the people exercise their ultimate authority to remove them, they will find themselves in the shoes of the applicants (former MPs)," said Wamunyinyi as he quoted Majanja's ruling.

MPs contribute 12.6 per cent of their pay towards their retirement, while the Government contributes an amount that is double the MPs' contributions (25.2 per cent of the pay). An MP earns at least Sh1 million in salaries and allowances every month, but some earn up to Sh1.9 million depending on the meetings and trips they attend.

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