10 January 2013

Kenyan Lawmakers Defy Public Opinion, Vote Again for Send-Off Bonuses

Kenyan lawmakers Wednesday (January 9th) voted again for a bill that would give each of them a $107,000 (9.3 million shilling) send-off bonus after their first attempt last October was vetoed by the president, AFP reported.

The payoff -- at a potential cost of $23.7 million to the country -- was sneaked through by lawmakers late Wednesday, with the vote only coming to public attention on Thursday after official parliamentary transcripts were published.

Lawmakers, who are already some of the best paid on the continent with a tax-free monthly salary of $13,000, voted themselves a similar package in October, sparking angry demonstrations in the capital.

However, President Mwai Kibaki blocked that bonus, arguing at the time that it was "untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country".

Under the new package, each of the 222 members of parliament and the speaker would get $107,000 as a send-off bonus when they leave office. Fewer than 30 legislators were present at the time the bill was passed on Wednesday. Kibaki holds the power to block the bonus again.

The vote was one of the final acts by lawmakers before parliament dissolves on Thursday evening ahead of the March 4th elections.

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