Kenyan MPs — already the world’s second-highest paid lawmakers — will receive a taxpayers’ gift of Sh11 million each and ‘earn’ Sh1.09 million salary for two months with no work.
These princely payments have been authorised as the doctors’ strike enters its second month. After years of medical school, public hospital doctors save lives, live like paupers compared with MPs and demand better pay. University staff are also on strike.
Parliament will dissolve on June 5, but members have been guaranteed their own pay through August 7, the day before the general election.
In other words, taxpayers will pay 416 members of the National Assembly and the Senate a minimum of Sh456.1 million shillings, as they campaign for reelection or for other high-paying positions.
Majority leader Aden Duale assured MPs that since their term, according to the Constitution, runs until the date of the next election, they will simply have to continue earning.
“Members will get their salaries and allowances, that is a guarantee I can give this House,” Duale said on Wednesday as he moved the motion to adopt the calendar.
In the past, Parliament was dissolved 60 days ahead of the polls but the 2010 Constitution says Parliament’s term runs to the day of the next election.
“From June 15, the staff of Parliament can start doing transition for the 12th Parliament,” Duale said.
In addition, each MP will take home Sh11,011,200 as a gratuity for service once their term expires on election day. This too is in the Constitution.
This will cost taxpayers at least Sh4.58 billion, despite the fact that many MPs will be reelected and earn a similar sum when their next terms expire in 2022.
The only thing MPs will not earn in their two months of Sine Die Recess of seven weeks is sitting allowance.
In 2013 Kenyan legislators were ranked the second-highest paid lawmakers in the world, surpassing their counterparts in developed countries such as the US, the UK and Japan. Only Nigerian lawmakers earned more — Kenyans earned 54 per cent less than Nigerians.
They were ranked in a study by the UK-based Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and the IMF. At that time, Kenyan lawmakers’ basic pay was 76 times higher than GDP of Sh84,624.
Today they earn more.
MPs are entitled to a basic monthly salary of Sh740,000, monthly airtime of Sh10,000 and a monthly car allowance of Sh356,525.
Those who travel beyond 750 kilometers to and from Nairobi to their constituencies receive a mileage allowance of Sh187 per kilometer, according to the rates of the Automobile Association of Kenya.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission also provides Special Duty Allowance of Sh150,000 per month. This is paid to the Majority Leaders, Minority Leaders members of the Speakers Panel and the Whips in the National Assembly and Senate.
According to Parliament’s calendar approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday, MPs will only work for 45 days between now and June.
Since Parliament sits only three day in a week, MPs technically have 45 days to complete all business and pass the 2017-18 budget.
They will take a short 10-day recess from March 14 to April 6 and another four-week break from April 7 to May 8.
Afterward, the House can be recalled by the speaker until August 7, for a special sitting to handle urgent business.
Duale said amendment of Parliament’s calendar was necessitated by the timelines set by the electoral commission, the budget-making cycle and House priorities.
According to the calendar, the first part of the fifth session will run from January 24 to March 2 before the 10-day break in March.
Sittings will resume on March 14 and run until April 6 and the four-week recess.
The second part of the fifth session starts on May 9 and runs until June 15, before the dissolution recess until a day before the election.
The National Assembly must pass 15 bills and the budget, which must be tabled, debated and passed before the house can be dissolved — and MPs start earning more money without having to work.
The country has been seized by election fever, forthcoming party nominations and the current voter registration. Many MPs have stayed away from work.
Since resuming on Tuesday, the National Assembly has had difficulty raising a quorum.
“Members rae more focussed on nominations than anything else. Lack of quorum is going to be the biggest challenge, even this week because of voter registration,” Duale told the Star.
The National Assembly has passed 151 bills since 2013 when it was elected.
The 10th Parliament, which was dissolved in January of 2013, passed a record 256 Bills.
Deputy Minority leader Jakoyo Midiwo said they plan to expedite passage of 15 urgent bills by the end of April.
This is because it is feared the ‘August House’ might be unable to raise a quorum for national business, as MPs will be busy campaigning.
Midiwo, the Gem MP, said it would foolhardy to expect an MP who lost a nomination to appear and deliberate.
The priority will be the budget bill to avert a financial crisis in the national and county governments.
In the last estimates by the Treasury, the 2017-18 budget is expected to grow by Sh162 billion.
Public expenditure is expected to hit Sh2.23 trillion, up from Sh2.07 trillion in the current financial year.
MPs will consider the Division of Revenue Bill by February 14 to allow for approval of the budget estimates, which should be done by February 24.
Source: THE STAR