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MPs on ‘go-slow’ over unpaid sitting, mileage allowances

By Moses Nyamori | November 22nd 2018

The National Assembly in session. [Photo, File]

Some MPs have boycotted their duties to protest Parliamentary Service Commission's (PSC) failure to pay their sitting and mileage allowances.

They have skipped several committee sittings – which are the engine of Parliament – over lack of financial facilitation for the past two months.

The Standard has reliably learnt that several foreign trips by the MPs have also been cancelled and pushed to next year over “Exchequer issues’’ while others have had their mileage allowances not reimbursed on time.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi (Suba South) is one of the lawmakers whose foreign trips were cancelled, according to our sources in the august House. Mbadi declined to talk about the matter when contacted yesterday. His visit has reportedly been postponed to February.

The silent go-slow in both the Senate and the National Assembly came to the fore last week when Endebess MP Robert Pukose took to the floor of the House to protest the cash crunch facing Parliament.

Mr Pukose said Energy Committee was worst-hit by the problem as members had opted not to attend committee sittings over lack of allowances.

“When we go for any committee retreat nowadays, we are not facilitated. Members are not given their sitting allowances,” he protested.

He warned that the House may consider reconstituting PSC for neglecting MPs’ welfare.

Many challeges

“It is high time the Parliamentary Service Commission is given notice. If they are not up to the task of making sure that members are facilitated, then we will recall and replace them. Members are having many challenges,” he said.

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai, however, dismissed the reports, stating that there was no cash crunch in Parliament.

“We have adequate funds to fund all planned parliamentary activities, including committee operations.

"We have no pending travel nor sitting allowances, perhaps except those submitted this week which we are processing,” said Mr Sialai.

He said there could be slight delay following Central Bank of Kenya guidelines that directed Parliament to pay all allowances through bank accounts.

He said they were not allowed to hand MPs cash as was the case before the new guidelines.

“Unless that is what the complaints are all about, otherwise we have no money problem. In fact, we also issued pay advice slips for sitting allowances paid for the month of October,” he said.

But some chairpersons of various House committees yesterday confided that there was a huge financial crisis in Parliament.

“There is a problem in reimbursing members' sitting allowances, and the implication is that some members have lost interest in attending committee sittings,” said a committee chairperson.

The MP said the problem had been there for the past two months, and that MPs had to finance their activities when carrying out their legislative roles.

The crisis has not spared members of the secretariat, who have also had to use their own money to fund their official duties while outside Parliament Buildings.

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