MPs seek to strip salary team's clout over House
By Moses Nyamori
| November 23rd 2018
Lawmakers have vowed to pass a new Bill that will reward them with hefty perks in their latest push for better terms of service.
Yesterday, the House was unanimous in its recommendation to lock out the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) from determining salaries of the 416 MPs.
They instead said they would hand over the powers to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), whose members are MPs.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale also revealed plans for a retreat by the House leadership to make further amendments to the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, that would hand them additional benefits.
Mr Duale and Minority Leader John Mbadi said it was time PSC took over the powers of determining allowances and other benefits for MPs to avoid being subjected to public ridicule by an external commission. “We need this commission so that we stop exposing ourselves to an external agency. We must deal with our own issues as Parliament. It is the reason why the Judiciary is fighting against the prosecution of the DCJ (Deputy Chief Justice).
"But most importantly, we must have a commission that is responsible for the welfare of the members and the parliamentary staff,” said Mr Mbadi.
The SRC had protested this move by MPs during a public participation meeting conducted by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC).
“This clause needs to be amended to take into account Article 230(4) and the SRC Act on the advisory role of the SRC and the responsibility of determining the review cycle for terms and conditions of employees in the public sector as per the SRC Act No. 10 of 2011,” SRC secretary Anne Gitau said in a memorandum to JLAC.
The benefits the MPs are seeking by amending the Bill that was debated yesterday include handing themselves Sh300 million for the Monitoring Fund.
It is not clear how the 290 constituency MPs intend to spend the money since they currently receive about Sh100 million for the National Government Constituency Development Fund.
The House further wants Parliament to fund parliamentary group meetings by facilitating their caucusing within Parliament Buildings as opposed to the current practice where political parties plan own meetings.
They also want medical cover extended to more than one wife. Currently, the lawmakers’ medical scheme provides for Sh10 million inpatient cover per family, Sh300,000 for outpatient cover, Sh150,000 for maternity and Sh75,000 for dental care.
The cover caters for the MP, one spouse and four children aged under 25 years.
The lawmakers' resolve ignores the public outcry and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rebuke over their unending demands for better terms of service.
The House is set to vote on the Bill next week before members take a Christmas break. “This Bill touches directly on the members of this House. We must anchor our mortgage, mileage and house allowances in law,” Duale said.
On Tuesday, the MPs resolved to have the Bill passed on Tuesday during a heated Kamukunji (informal session) chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi in the main Chambers.
Other demands in the Bill are a review of allowances for domestic and international travel for the MPs and further facilitation in running their 290 constituency offices.
The MPs currently enjoy Sh110,800 in per diem for work travels to the United Kingdom and Sh81,700 for travels to India.
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