Legislators petition PSC to hire for them 349 legal researchers

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NMG
National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NMG 

MPs have petitioned the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to hire researchers with legal background to assist them in the formulation of Bills and motions.

They want an officer for each of the 349 members to ease their parliamentary work. “MPs lack proper advice or have not been capacitated to have necessary skills on how to develop Bills.

‘‘We need persons with legal background or researchers to help us,” Mohamed Duale, MP for Daadab Constituency said.

Mr Duale said the PSC should allow MPs to use part of the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) to hire legal officers and or researchers.

“We want to be allowed to use CDF to recruit officers with legal backgrounds just like we are given money by PSC to hire personal assistants, constituency office managers, secretaries and security,” Mr Duale said. The PSC hired a pool of legal officers, legislative drafters, researchers among other professionals to assist MPs.

An MP who seeks to develop a Bill simply walks to the legal directorate, presents their ideas and the officers draft the proposed laws.

The PSC also gives each MP about Sh80,000 monthly to pay constituency office managers, personal  assistants, office attendants, security guards and liaison officers.

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai said that MPs have been given money to run their offices, which can be used to hire personal assistants who have legal backgrounds.

“They have money that can be used to employ even 10 staff members. I think we need to insist that part of the money goes towards hiring PAs who have research training.

‘‘Members appear to have over-emphasised offices at the expense of hiring researchers,” Mr Sialai said in an interview.

Speaker Justin Muturi told lawmakers to develop interest in House and committee matters.

He said a lot of MPs fail to attend Parliament and to participate in critical committee debates.

“We have to show interest in House business. A lot of it is not Greek. Please pay attention to what is happening on the floor and in committees,” Mr Muturi said.