Politics and policy

Parliament takes MPs’ fingerprints from Tuesday to curb allowances fraud

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MPs seated in the National Assembly chambers. The legislators will from today be required to register House attendance using their fingerprints in a measure aimed at curbing fraud in payment of allowances. FILE

MPs seated in the National Assembly chambers. The legislators will from today be required to register House attendance using their fingerprints in a measure aimed at curbing fraud in payment of allowances. FILE 

By EDWIN MUTAI, emutai@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Monday, February 10  2014 at  20:22

In Summary

  • MPs were required to register with the House Information Communications Technology Department Monday to enable use of the system immediately the House resumes for its second session Tuesday afternoon.
  • MPs have been queuing at the entry of the debating chamber to register their attendance, leading to waste of time.
  • In other instances, MPs have been using the Sergeant at Arms officers to sign on their behalf whenever they are absent to earn allowances.
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MPs will from Tuesday record their attendance of Parliament using fingerprints under a new biometric register installed during the recess in a bid to curb fraud in payment of allowances.

The legislators were required to register with the House Information Communications Technology Department Monday to enable use of the system immediately the House resumes for its second session Tuesday afternoon.

“This is meant to solve the challenges faced by the manual registration,” said National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi in an internal memo to all MPs.

The cost of installing the new system could not be immediately established.

MPs have been queuing at the entry of the debating chamber to register their attendance, leading to waste of time.

In other instances, MPs have been using the Sergeant at Arms officers to sign on their behalf whenever they are absent to earn allowances.

The installation of the biometric registration system will ensure only those who attend sittings earn allowances.

Each MP is paid Sh5,000 per House sitting translating to Sh20,000 weekly. The House sits on Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoon and the entire day on Wednesdays.

In 2011, Parliament undertook major refurbishment of the chambers, which was completed in August 2012 at a cost of Sh960 million. The 350-seater hall has an extra seating capacity of 600 in the media, public, diplomats’ and speaker’s galleries.

The horse-shoe designed chamber has retractable seats, which cost Sh200,000 each.

The debating chamber is equipped with modern technology, including public address system, electronic voting system, computer monitors and electronic buzzers.

To alert the Speaker whenever one wants to contribute to the business of the House, MPs press the buzzers as opposed to rising on their feet as was the case before.

The technology allows the Speaker to disable the microphone of a member who breaches House rules, for example one who makes false allegations or raises frivolous points of order.

Every seat is installed with a monitor to enable intra-communication within the chamber. Similar works are currently underway to remodel the old chamber for use by the 67 Senators.

The Parliamentary Service Commission is also erecting a multi-storey building next to the Mzee Jomo Kenyatta mausoleum to house the Senate.

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