Members of Parliament have hatched yet another plot that will enable them to continue picking taxpayers’ pockets upon leaving public service.
Fresh proposals have been tabled in Parliament seeking to amend laws governing the legislators’ benefits to include a clause that assures MPs a monthly stipend after they are rejected by voters.
The changes, contained in proposed amendments to the Parliamentary Societies Bill, 2014, seek to force the Exchequer’s hand into paying all former MPs a $1,000 (Sh89,000) monthly stipend for the rest of their lives.
“The monthly stipend should reinstate former MPs’ dignity by shielding them from becoming beggars,” said Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura who also fixed the figure at a minimum of $1, 000 (Sh89,000).
“I have done a quick calculation and found that Kenya has about 1,000 former MPs who have served since independence. This means it will cost only Sh90 million per month to preserve the dignity of these former legislators,” he said.
The proposals are yet another attempt by the legislators to usurp the role of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, which is mandated to determine the compensation of all public officers – including their retirement benefits.
Eldas MP Adan Keynan is the brains behind the proposals that also seek to assure failed or retired politicians of a medical cover financed by taxpayers.
MPs are also seeking the establishment of a Parliamentary Societies Fund that will enable them to draw public funds for personal investments.
The amendments also seek to cover one-term MPs and those who lost their seats before the pension law was enacted. If the proposals are passed they will qualify for retirement benefits financed by the taxpayers.
The Parliamentary Pensions Scheme Act only covers MPs who have served two consecutive terms, leaving out those who serve a single term. MPs are currently entitled to a mortgage and a car loan.
Mr Keynan has crafted a Bill that seeks to create a society whose brief is to promote and maintain the status and well-being of former MPs.
The Bill provides for the retirement of former MPs, offer counselling, advise them on retirement, re-employment and financial planning.
“If you were a doctor, you have lost most of the knowledge acquired from your training. Lecturers, engineers and financial experts who have been members of this House for several terms should be debriefed to remain relevant in their areas of expertise,” Mr Keynan said.
He argues that most MPs are suddenly retired by voters at the polls, leaving them no time to prepare for the next phase of their lives.
“We need to establish a society similar to that of lawyers, accountants and engineers, and to create data bank of former MPs,” he said.
The envisaged society is, among others, expected to develop projects that will ensure former MPs support one another.
“The society, whose patron will be the former president, in this case Mwai Kibaki, will provide access to resources and services to aid former MPs. It will offer assistance to all MPs in need and facilitate employment of former MPs.
Mr Keynan argues that in jurisdictions like the United Kingdom, the government is obligated by law to utilise the experience of former MPs in all State funded organisations. Such employment is voluntary in the US.
The proposed society will be run by a board whose chairperson will be elected from among MPs. Other members of the board will be the principal secretary responsible for parliamentary affairs, three persons elected by former MPs, one psychiatrist, one serving MP and a Senator, clerks of each chamber of the House and the CEO of the society.
Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi, who seconded the Bill, said former MPs are suffering because most are not employable upon leaving Parliament.
“We are all potential former MPs. We must look at our interest given that we are going to be former MPs,” he said.
“I am particularly keen on ensuring that the medical cover segment of the Bill is passed,” he said. Abdikadir Aden (Balambala) reckoned that caring for those who have served in Parliament was of paramount importance.
Former MPs could be redeployed in peace building initiatives both within and outside the country, he said, citing the example of former Speaker Francis ole Kaparo who is now the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission.