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SRC reluctant as debate on MCAs’ Sh2m car grant rages

Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Lynn Mengich with vice-chairman Dalmas Otieno briefing on house allowance for members of parliament and senate on May 15, 2019. [David Gichuru]

The Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) is reluctant to make any commitment in the raging debate over the Sh4.5 billion car grants for MCAs.

On Friday last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta yielded to pressure from MCAs from the Mt Kenya region and promised them a Sh2 million car grant each after they made it a condition for passing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill.

Uhuru’s car grant offer was seconded by ODM leader Raila Odinga, who while meeting MCAs from Nyanza region, said the representatives had a right to enjoy the privilege.

The thorny issue of the car grant has lingered since 2013 and has set up the National Executive against MCAs who have remained adamant in their push to have the benefit.

But SRC Chairperson Lynn Mengich was non-committal on the issue even as she said the matter was under review.

Linked to politics

“We shall respond to your question as soon as we have analysed the situation,” responded Purity Njeru on behalf of Mengich who did not answer calls or short messages on whether the commission will confer the benefits, including the demand for pension.

However, SRC Vice-Chairman Dalmas Otieno said the benefits should be not linked to politics.

“In fact, individually I oppose this in totality. Kenyans are suffering a lot and yet we are having a conversation on MCA’s self-actualisation by supporting BBI,” he said.

If the president’s promise is to be realised, Sh4.5 billion will be needed to benefit the 2,224 MCAs in the country. Of those, 1,450 are elected while 774 are nominated.

Currently, each MCA is entitled to a car loan of Sh2 million and it is expected that most of them have paid more than a half of their loans by now.

Former County Assemblies Forum Chairman Johnson Osoi said the car grant push by MCAs is not a favour but a right since their colleagues in Parliament are enjoying the same.

“It is unfortunate that Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has claimed MCAs are being bribed with Sh2 million car grants. It means he is also being bribed for enjoying the Sh7 million car grant he received,” said Osoi.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said in 2016 he was in Mombasa with the MCAs when they were each promised a car grant of Sh2 million, which they are still pursuing now.

“If current MCAs have been bribed with car grant to pass BBI my advice to them regardless is to make sure the money hits the account before voting. Otherwise...,” said Murkomen.

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