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Economy

MPs line up for sacco loans, savings after campaign spending

Legislators during proceedings at parliament building Nairobi on January 3, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Legislators during proceedings at parliament building Nairobi on January 3, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Some legislators who served in the 11th Parliament have camped on the National Assembly grounds to push for quick release of their sacco savings, highlighting the dire financial straits they may be facing after months of bruising election campaigns.

Officials of the Parliamentary Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Pacoso) and Bunge Sacco, who cannot be named discussing MPs’ finances in the press, said they have been attending to a higher number of members seeking to access their savings in the past three days.

The Pacoso offices located at Protection House started teeming with MPs on Tuesday, three days after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman, Wafula Chebukati, declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential poll.

Outgoing MPs were seeking to access their savings while some of those who retained their seats applied for fresh loans.

“We have seen a marked increase in the number of MPs making inquiries either for new loans or access to their savings,” said a Sacco official.

“We have had to regrettably turn down requests for additional loans for those with uncleared balances.”

Most saccos demand a notice of between three and six months before members can withdraw their savings.

Lost seats

More than 61 per cent of members of the National Assembly or 179 who served in the 11th Parliament lost their seats. The National Assembly has 290 elective seats.

MPs, including those who have been re-elected, are entitled to gratuity or end-of-term pay totalling Sh2.8 billion.

This guarantees each of the 418 members of Parliament, including women representatives and senators, about Sh6.6 million.

The gratuity, to be released by the Treasury, takes several weeks to process upon expiry of their term. Yesterday, some poll losers were busy processing discharge documents to facilitate speedy payment of their dues.

“This form is issued to certify that all office property and other dues have been returned and rights to access property or services have been appropriately discontinued,” the clearance form says.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), the MPs’ employer, runs the Pacoso for members of Parliament. Individual MPs can also choose to be members of the Bunge Sacco, which draws a majority of its membership from the over 1,200 PSC staff.

Over 80 per cent of the members, who served in the 11th Parliament —including the Senate — lost their seats on August 8.

Each of the 418 members will walk away with Sh6.7 million, drawing from the Sh2.8 billion that the Treasury allocated for gratuity in the current financial year.

Heavy campaign spend

The beehive of activity at Pacoso and Bunge Sacco offices signals the harsh realities of heavy campaign spending that has taken toll on MPs starting from party primaries in April to the General Election on August 8.

MPs are heavy spenders and have been relying on their hefty salaries and bank loans to maintain lavish lifestyles.

In the past, elected MPs relied on the Sh5 million car grant to cushion them from the effects of campaign spending as they waited to earn their salary at the end of the month following their swearing in.

With the scraping of the car grant by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), newly elected and broke MPs may be forced to rely on bank overdrafts as they wait for the first salary.

New pay regime

In July, the Sarah Serem-led SRC announced a new pay structure that reduced gross salaries of all State officials, including MPs.

Each member of the 418 member bi-cameral Parliament will take home Sh621,250 per month, down from Sh710,000. The SRC also scrapped sitting allowances for plenary as well as special parliamentary allowance.

The salaries commission has also replaced mileage allowance, which has been prone to abuse with a zoning system for purposes of calculating monthly transport allowances for the Senate, County and National Assembly leaders.

Kenyan lawmakers stand among the highest paid politicians in the world, earning a cumulative pay of Sh1.33 million a month courtesy of unlimited committee sessions and mileage allowances before the latest review.

Committees are now capped under the new SRC legal notice.

The MPs are also entitled to mortgage of up to Sh20 million and car loan of Sh7 million each.

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