President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) has declined to sign into law a Bill that gave MPs powers to award themselves hefty allowances.
The lawmakers had sneaked in amendments to the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, giving themselves a blank cheque and taking away powers of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to determine allowances to the 416 legislators in the two Houses.
The Bill also handed the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) powers to review domestic and international travel allowances for legislators without consulting the SRC.
But Uhuru declined to sign the Bill and instead referred it back to Parliament.
“In the exercise of powers conferred on me by Article 115 (1) (b) of the Constitution, I refuse to assent to the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, for the reasons set out,” said Uhuru in a communication to the National Assembly.
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The President asked the MPs to delete Clause 20 of the Bill that hands PSC powers to regularly review both domestic and international travel allowances to MPs and Parliamentary staff without seeking advisory by SRC.
Uhuru reminded the lawmakers that SRC remained the body mandated to determine salaries and allowances for all State officers.
He also directed the House to delete Clause 43 of the Bill that seeks to hand PSC powers to determine MPs and Parliamentary staff salaries and allowances.
The enabling legislation for PSC was aimed at strengthening the MPs’ hand in demanding better perks.
The proposed law mandates their employer to set “minimum standards for travel and accommodation and to regularly review the domestic and international travel allowances applicable for members and staff of Parliament.”
This provision would have conferred MPs a raft of allowances, including the Sh250,000 house allowance and Sh18,000 to Sh24,000 night allowance.
The MPs had also demanded to be treated like parliamentarians in other jurisdictions, who, they claimed, enjoyed better facilities and treatment.
The Bill would have seen the MPs entitled to a room for visitors, a bevy of researchers, uninterrupted internet connectivity and a room for parliamentary parties to caucus.
This was in addition to other demands such as continuous training for the legislators locally and abroad.
Uhuru’s rejection of the Bill means that the MPs will now not get greater leverage in pushing for some of their pending demands, among them the provision of a gift shop where they can buy presents, and the deployment of a public health specialist in Parliament.