Presented Uhuru Kenyatta has rejected a bill which sought to award retired Members of Parliament Sh100,000 pension every month.
The Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill, which was sponsored by the National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi, sailed through and was presented to the President on August 5, 2020, for an ascent.
But the President in the memo dated September 7, 2020, to the National Assembly, declined to sign it into law, raising three concerns that need reconsideration by the lawmakers.
In the memo, the President pointed out that the legislators bypassed crucial procedures and determinants of salaries and benefits when they formulated the bill. For instance, he said that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC)was never roped in the process, hence, signing it could not have been possible.
When addressing the MPs through a memo, Speaker Justin Muturi explained the issues the president raised.
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Muturi stated: “Members’ pension under the Act are calculated according to the contributions paid into the scheme during the parliamentary term. The proposed amendment fails to provide for such calculation, and makes no reference to Members’ contribution; The bill overlooks the mandate of Salaries and Remuneration Commission, under the Constitution, which comprises among other things, the setting and review of the remuneration and benefits for all State officers, who include Members of Parliament.”
Another issue raised by the president is the resultant wage burden that the law would have on the taxpayers and the government. He gave an example that it would cost the government Sh440 million annually to pay the pensions. And, Uhuru says, that paying such amount would attract genuine grievance from other retired state officers to seek for revision of their benefits upwards.
In the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the MPs wanted the retired counterparts, who served from 1984 to 2001 to be paid a monthly pension of Sh100,000. The changes to the National Assembly’s retirement benefits were also expected to affect the Parliamentary Pensions Act, 2002. This would overturn the earlier stand that only former legislators who served two terms in the 17-year period would merit pension.
Had the President signed the bill, the ex-lawmakers would have gotten their benefits backdated to July 2010 as per the recommendations of Akilano Akiwumi Task Force.
“That the Bill be amended by deleting clause 2 and substituting therefor the following new clause in sub-section (1) (b) by deleting the word ‘two’ and substituting, therefore, the word ‘one’,” the committee said.
The bill would also have seen the Sh33,000 pension benefits of over 375 former legislators raised to Sh100,000.
Meanwhile, the President on Thursday chaired a cabinet meeting after a two-week recess that ended on August 28, 2020.
A press release from the Office of the President indicates that the members discussed how to restore the economy, winning the war against the coronavirus pandemic and cushioning the small businesses from the effects of the slump. They launched the Inter-Agency Programme to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) during the time of the pandemic.
“Cabinet approved the establishment of toll-free hotlines and various online and mobile applications that would enable anonymous reporting of all incidents of Gender-Based Violence and all instances of abuse of Children’s Rights,” notes the statement from the Office of the President.
The Cabinet also resolved to establish a Sh10 billion Credit Guarantee, being contributions from various institutions to fund the SMEs in two financial years-2020/2021 and 2021/2022.
Apart from the target to achieve 10 per cent forest cover in the country by 2022, through Greening Campaign; there was a package to protect the frontline health workers.
The statement said: “Cabinet approved the enhancement of the Group Personal Accident and Work Injury Benefits Act Cover and the inclusion of Comprehensive Group Life Cover for all Civil Servants, including the NYS.”