The Star (Nairobi)

11 January 2013

Kenya: MPs to Receive Sh9.3 Million Bonus, State Funerals

President Kibaki was under great pressure not to assent into law, a last minute by members of the Tenth Parliament to award themselves a Sh9.3 million 'farewell token' that will cost taxpayers over Sh2 billion.

The Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) asked the President to reject the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2012 which MPs passed on Wednesday night awarding themselves the hefty sendoff package.

These commissions also asked Kibaki to reject the Presidential Retirement Benefits (Amendment) Bill 2012 which will see him take home a Sh25.2 million golden handshake and guarantees him a Sh1 million monthly pension for the rest of his life.

Not satisfied with granting themselves the hefty 'send-off' cash payment, the MPs also approved a clause they introduced which will see each of them accorded a state funeral when they die.

And when they retire from Parliament, the MPs want each of them assigned an armed security guard who shall be provided on request by the entitled person.

They also want to be issued with diplomatic passports for themselves and their spouses as well as have unlimited access all VIP lounges in all the airports in the county.

These new lavish gifts were not in the original amendments to the National Assembly Remuneration Bill which the MPs debated last year and which President Kibaki rejected in October.

This time around, they not only reinstated their earlier perks but added a few more.

The MPs amended the sections on gratuity and added a clause that every MP shall be entitled to the send-off payment at the rate of 31 per cent per annum of the taxable amount paid to MP during the period of service in respect to the salary and allowances.

They changed the law to ensure that gratuity is paid at 31 per cent of their Sh200, 000 basic monthly salary for every year in service since January 2008 until August 27, 2010 when the new Constitution was promulgated.

From August 27, 2010, the amount to be factored in calculating the gratuity shoots from Sh200,000 to Sh851,000 which is the monthly gross pay for an MP. This will see each MP take about Sh 9.3 million as 'golden handshake.'

The Tenth Parliament concluded its business yesterday and will officially be dissolved on Monday. The bill has now been forwarded to Kibaki for assent.

If he assents, it becomes the law and Treasury will have to raid other sections of the budget to get the amounts needed to pay the MPs. The President can also reject the same and refuse to sign it into law by giving Parliament a memorandum containing his reasons for refusing to assent to the Bill.

Originally, the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2012 was meant to secure retirement benefits for Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, House Speaker Kenneth Marende, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and the two Deputy Prime Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Others included in the list of beneficiaries in the original bill were the Chief Justice, Deputy CJ, the Attorney- General and the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

The MPs later added in the list the Director-General of the National Intelligence Service and the Inspector-General of the National Police Service before finally inserting a clause to secure their own sendoff package.

The amendments were introduced by Finance Minister Njeru Githae. The Bill was discussed shortly after they passed the Presidential Retirement Benefits (Amendment) Bill 2012 awarding President Kibaki his send-off and retirement package.

Yesterday, the Salaries Commission urged Kibaki to reject the bills as they were unconstitutional and MPs had not considered the principle of affordability and sustainability of the proposals on the country's economy.

By denying Kenyans an opportunity to participate in the debate about the two Bills, the House had blatantly acted in contravention of the constitution.

"The Commission entreats the President to decline to assent to the two Bills just like he did when refused to sign the Finance Amendment Bill 2012 into law on the grounds that it was untenable and unconstitutional. If assented to and subsequently enacted into laws this will not only be a violation to the Constitution, it will also result in additional cost to the Consolidated Fund,"said the commission's chair Sarah Serem.

The CIC chairman Charles Nyachae yesterday wrote o Kibaki asking him not to assent to the two bills as the Salaries commission which is mandated to set the salaries and benefits of state officers including MPs, was not consulted as stipulated in the constitution.

Rejecting the Finance Amendment Bill which would have seen MPs take home the hefty 'severance' pay last October, Kibaki said additional charges to the Consolidated Fund was 'unconstitutional and untenable."

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