Nairobi — Members of Parliament have passed a Bill that grants them Sh9.3 million in gratuity and several other benefits once they leave office.
In addition, they want diplomatic passports for themselves and their spouses, plus unlimited access to VIP lounges in all airports within Kenya to reduce the 'hustles' they go through whenever they travel, even in their retirement.
The lawmakers also want each of them issued with an armed bodyguard and should be accorded a State funeral when they die.
Kenyan taxpayer will continue to pay for drivers to the current Grand Coalition Cabinet of 42 ministers and 55 assistants even after their retirement. And because they also serve as MPs it means that they will enjoy the perks that MPs approved.
Finance Minister Robin Githae proposed the inclusion of Members of Parliament in the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President, Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliament, Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice) Bill.
The president had refused to assent to a similar attempt when Parliament in October sneaked into the Finance Bill, which forced MPs to rescind the amendment so they could garner a two-third majority in the House to overturn the presidential memorandum.
The amendment states that a retired Member of Parliament shall be entitled to a gratuity at a rate of thirty-one percent of the 200,000 basic salary for every year in service, until August 27, 2010 when the Constitution was promulgated.
The controversial Bill has now been sent to President Mwai Kibaki for approval.
Legislators introduced an amendment on Thursday that would see them paid a total of Sh2.1 billion in bonuses.
Each of the 222 members and the Speaker will get Sh9.3 million as a send-off package at the end of their current term.
The MPs as at now are entitled to a Sh3.72 million send-off package.
Parliament further approved the President Retirement Benefits Bill 2012 which will see President Kibaki receive a Sh25 million send off perk as a retirement benefit and Sh1 million monthly for the rest of his life.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Commission for the Implementation of Constitution have appealed to President Kibaki to reject Bill and declare the large send off package that MPs awarded themselves illegal. They have warned they will seek legal if the legislators do not reconsider the move.
The SRC chairlady Sarah Serem says the move by MPs to award themselves a Sh9.3 million send off package each is unconstitutional, since its only the salaries commission that can award public servants such bonuses.
However, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara cautioned Kenyans against trivialising the matter.
"The media would want to project that we are legislating for our funerals... we are better than that. We want to be able to build a better country and strengthen the institutions that together make up this great nation," VP Musyoka said.
Imanyara accused the media of misleading Kenyans on the substance of the amendments.
"There is nothing new in the provision of armed guards for MPs. This has been standard practice which is now regularised by law," the Imenti Central MP said.