6 October 2012

Kenya: MPs Given Sh6 Million Bonus in Secret

Photo: Laban Wanambisi/Capital FM
Parliament puts up a spirited fight in defence of their salaries.

MEMBERS of Parliament have secretly awarded themselves a massive retirement bonus that will see each MP pocket an extra Sh5.5 million. This will cost the taxpayer an extra Sh1.2 billion for 222 MPs.

MPs late on Thursday night amended the National Assembly Remuneration Act so that "severance" allowance is computed as 31 per cent of gross income, instead of 31 per cent of basic pay.

And to make matters worse, the MPs backdated the extra pay to August 27, 2010, the day the new constitution was promulgated.

The amendment brought by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan on Thursday specified that severance allowance should be 31 per cent of "salary, constituency allowance, nominated member's allowance, ex-officio member's allowance, house allowance, extraneous allowance, transport allowance, entertainment allowance, and vehicle fixed cost allowance."

Previously at the end of the parliamentary term MPs would have been paid a gratuity of Sh62,000 for each month worked, which is 31 percent of their Sh200,000 basic pay per month.

MPs earn around Sh851,000 per month including allowances so the monthly severance allowance will now jump to Sh260,000.

The extra gratuity has been backdated to August 27, 2010 when the new constitution was promulgated.

Parliament will be dissolved in January 2013 so each MP will receive an extra Sh5.6 million gratuity for the 28 months since August 2010. That is on top of the Sh3.7 million they will receive as standard gratuity for the 60 months they worked since January 2008.

Parliamentary allowances include monthly constituency allowance of Sh50,000, house allowance of Sh70,000, extraneous allowance of Sh30,000 entertainment allowance of Sh60,000, car allowance of Sh75,000 while transport allowance depends on the distance an MP travels for official duties.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, all ministers, assistant ministers, MPs who are members of the Parliamentary Service Commission, joint chief whips Jakoyo Midiwo (ODM) and Johnson Muthama (PNU) and four MPs who are Member of Speaker's panel will get an even bigger gratuity since their allowances are higher than those of an ordinary MP. The four members of the Speaker's panel are Ekwe Ethuro, Gitobu Imanyara, Phillip Kaloki and Joyce Laboso.

The amendment to the National Assembly Remuneration Act was done when the House was finalizing the Finance Bill, 2012. "There is no cost implication at all. It is meant to harmonise the National Assemblies Remuneration Act and the constitution," Keynan told the Star yesterday.

It is not clear why the amendments were kept secret and were not listed in the Order Paper as with other proposed changes to the Finance Bill 2012. The amendment was approved and signed in advance by Finance minister Njeru Githae.

The intention may be to cover the cost of MPs paying tax on their allowances since the new constitution ruled in 2010 that all government officials should pay tax. The MPs in the Tenth Parliament have earned a reputation for unilaterally increasing their salaries and allowances.

The Parliamentary Service Commission handles remuneration for MPs. It is chaired by the Speaker Kenneth Marende with Keynan as vice-chairman.

Article 230 of the Constitution stipulates that remuneration and benefits of all state officers including MPs should be determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. However Parliament has ignored the commission.

The MPs also may have violated Article 122 (3) of the constitution which states that an MP cannot vote on any question if he or she has a financial interest in it.

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