12 January 2013

Kenya: Kibaki Rejects MPs Hefty Packages Bill

Photo: Capital FM
Parliament (file photo).

Nairobi — President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday declined to assent to the controversial Retirements Benefits bill awarding MPs hefty perks.

A statement from State House said Kibaki instead directed Attorney General Professor Githu Muigai to re-draft the bill to conform to the new constitution.

"President Mwai Kibaki has today declined to assent to the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill No. 86 of 2012 as enacted by the National Assembly on Thursday 10th January 2013," the statement said.

The Bill was seeking to grant MPs Sh 9.3 million gratuity, state funerals and armed security even after retirement.

"President Kibaki has directed the Attorney General to redraft the Bill to ensure compliance with the Constitution and the law and submit it and the accompanying explanatory memorandum to the Speaker with immediate effect," the short statement added.

The controversial bill was passed secretly by MPs on Wednesday night, a day before the 10th parliament adjourned.

MPs also wanted to get diplomatic passports for themselves and their spouses and unlimited access to VIP lounges in all airports within Kenya.

Once the Bill is taken back to the National Assembly for consideration together with the rejection explanatory note, it will require two-thirds majority support to pass.

It will then go before the Senate, where it will also require a two-thirds majority vote, before being forwarded to the incoming President for assent.

The President would, on the other hand, receive a Sh25 million send off perk as a retirement benefit and Sh1 million monthly for the rest of his life.

Prior to the President's action, civil society groups, church leaders and most Kenyans were strongly opposed to it.

"It's immoral. What have they done that makes them think they should earn that much? Kenyans work so hard and are taxed and now they want my tax to go and burry them? No way. That's just wrong," a businesswoman on the streets of Nairobi said.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara however, argued that Kenyans were trivialising the matter and blowing things out of proportion.

"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," said Musyoka.

"There is nothing new in the provision of armed guards for MPs. This has been standard practice which is now regularised by law," argued Imanyara.

Several civil societies and constitutional office holders also felt that the legislators were overstepping their mandate.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission argued that Parliament had usurped its responsibility while civil societies went up in arms urging the President to reject the law.

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution also maintained that the law would be an illegality that would be challenged in Court.

Presidential aspirants Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth and other MPs had already distanced themselves from the law "because it seeks to make Kenyans suffer more."

In October last year, Kibaki refused to assent to a similar attempt by MPs who wanted to sneak in the hefty perks into the Finance Bill.

As of now, the legislators are entitled to a Sh3.72 million send-off package.

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