Editorials

EDITORIAL: A hefty send-off package for MPs is not justified

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National Assembly. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • MPs have been known to vote with their wallets when matters touching on their personal welfare are on the floor of the House.
  • The kind of bi-partisan approach to such debates contrasts sharply to the political party differences witnessed whenever the lawmakers discuss and vote on issues affecting ordinary Kenyans.
  • The MPs are it again — this time with a proposal to award themselves a hefty Sh11.6 million send-off package each at the end of their five-year term.

MPs have been known to vote with their wallets when matters touching on their personal welfare are on the floor of the House.

The kind of bi-partisan approach to such debates contrasts sharply to the political party differences witnessed whenever the lawmakers discuss and vote on issues affecting ordinary Kenyans.

The MPs are it again — this time with a proposal to award themselves a hefty Sh11.6 million send-off package each at the end of their five-year term.

If approved, the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill will see a legislator choose to either make monthly pensions contribution or just sit and wait for the Sh11.6 million gratuity payable at the end of each term.

Those who choose to make monthly contributions will receive a lifetime payout of at least Sh125,000 after serving for two terms.

The one-off gratuity option would set back taxpayers about Sh5 billion in payouts to the legislators in both houses of Parliament — the National Assembly and Senate. This is no small amount for a country whose economy is struggling and has a pension crisis for retirees to worry about. As a country, we need to ask critical questions about this. Are these astronomical payouts really justified? What makes legislators so special that they have to award themselves such favours?

Absurdly, the new law treats MPs as a needy lot who have to be helped to make ends meet once they leave office at taxpayers' expense. This is far from the truth.

Being an MP is already one of the best-paying jobs in Kenya, and election campaigns are usually financially well-oiled affairs. They can surely save for their retirement.

And if there are indeed MPs who are ‘poor’, they are certainly far well-off compared to millions of Kenyans to whom putting food on the table is a daily struggle. These are the people who need to be assisted to improve their standard of living right into retirement.

As leaders, MPs are supposed to come up with enabling laws and policies to grow the economy and financially lift up such people, not serve their own selfish ends.