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MPs' travel allowances slashed

General view of the National Assembly. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) has slashed foreign and domestic travel per diem for MPs.

Legislators on trips to the US will now get only Sh79,091 from Sh143,999 per day, while those on trips to the UK will receive Sh92,674 from Sh133,181.

National Assembly and Senate speakers will pocket Sh141,715 from Sh154,577 during assignments in Singapore and Sh121,402 from Sh132,460 while in Switzerland.

Speakers, MPs, Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the National Assembly, and Job Group U-V on a trip to Afghanistan will get $523 (Sh62,760). Those in Job Group P-R, among them deputy clerks, will get $369 (Sh44,280) and those in Job Group P-R, including the chief sergeant at arms, will get $243 (29,160).

Those going to the United Arab Emirates and in Job Group U-V will get $858 (Sh102,960). 

In a memo signed by the Clerk of the Senate and Secretary Parliamentary Service Commission Jeremiah Nyegenye and copied to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Director General-Parliamentary Joint Services, PSC said the document supersedes all previous correspondence and is applicable across the Parliamentary Service.

PSC in a circular issued on August 23, said the decision was reached following a Gazette Notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

Yesterday, Homa Bay Town MP-elect Peter Kaluma said per diem is not remuneration by a welfare facility granted to an employee or servant while away from the normal duty station.

He said SRC overstepped its mandate in reducing the per diems, adding that under the Constitution, the provision of facilities and catering for the welfare of those serving in Parliament as MPs and staff is the work of PSC, not SRC.

"For those serving in the Judiciary, this mandate is vested by the Constitution in the Judicial Service Commission which has firmly enforced this for judicial officers and staff disregarding misinformed gazettes by SRC. SRC has acted beyond its powers in purporting to set per diem rates for Parliament and the Judiciary which is a function bestowed upon other duly established independent commissions," he said.

Kaluma, who has been re-elected for a third term, said the  Constitution requires SRC to harmonise remuneration in the public service, but it had failed to do so.

"Instead, since the new Constitution came into force, SRC has turned the pay of MPs into a ping pong game requiring debate at the beginning of each Parliament while the pay for public servants in other arms of government, including that of commissioners, remains constant or increases over time," he said.

For instance, the pay of MPs in the 11th Parliament was set at one-half of that of the 10th Parliament. The monthly payment for the 12th Parliament was reduced by $1,000 from that of the 11th Parliament.

According to the MP, in the current Gazette for the 13th Parliament, SRC has removed annual salary increments for MPs despite this being the right of all public servants and employees to cater for inflation.

"Parliament needs a provision in the Constitution, like that prescribed for the Judiciary and commissions, to safeguard its terms of service and so that the terms can be predictable and certain like for other arms of government. It's very shameful that as a society, we've chosen to be engaged in a debate of what should be paid to elected leaders each election," he added.

Locally, the new rates of daily subsistence allowances and local travel indicate that National Assembly members in Job Group U-V, including speakers, all MPs, Clerk of the Senate, Clerk National Assembly Grades F1, F2, and E5 going to Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Naivasha will get Sh18,200. Sh12,600 is the per diem rates for Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Embu, Nanyuki, Nakuru, Lodwar and Garissa. Any other town per diem will be Sh10,500.

Those in Job Group P-R, Grade E2, E1, and D5, among them chief sergeant-at-arms, will get Sh14,000 while in Nairobi Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale and Naivasha. Those visiting Nyeri, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Embu, Nanyuki, Nakuru and Lodwar on assignments will get Sh10,500, while in other towns they will get Sh8,400.