Economy

MPs seek Sh11.7bn for luxury cars, aides’ pay

mps

Lawmakers at Parliament Buildings. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

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Summary

  • The 418 parliamentarians, including both Speakers, are entitled to low-cost mortgage, car loans, a free vehicle, and perks that make them some of the best-paid lawmakers on the continent.
  • The Sh4.2 billion car grants will see the newly elected MPs get new vehicles at taxpayers’ expense, underlining the burden of keeping the lawmakers comfortable.
  • The legislators are currently entitled to a Sh7 million car loan, in addition to a Sh5 million car grant and Sh20 million mortgage.

Members of Parliament have petitioned the Treasury to include an additional Sh11.7 billion in the budget for free cars for each, a sendoff package for their aides, and extra millions for a mortgage and medical insurance payments.

Parliament’s Budget and Appropriations Committee wants Sh4.2 billion for free cars for MPs who will be elected after the August 9 polls, a Sh6.6 billion send-off package for their aides, and a Sh500 million top-up on their subsidised mortgage.

They are also seeking Sh373 million to cater for medical bills of MPS who will fail to win back their seat at the General Elections

The Committee said the one-off expense was inevitable as they prepare to leave office after the polls where some of the MPs might not be re-elected for office.

The 418 parliamentarians, including both Speakers, are entitled to low-cost mortgage, car loans, a free vehicle, and perks that make them some of the best-paid lawmakers on the continent.

Thousands of personal aides attached to the 68 Senators across the 47 Counties and the 350 National Assembly members are set to receive juicy retirement benefits, which are equivalent to 31 percent of their salaries earned over the five-year term.

“The Parliamentary Service Commission submitted to the Budget and Appropriation Committee expenditure requirements amounting to Sh65.71 billion. This translates to a Sh27.23 billion deviation from the resource ceiling of Sh38.476 billion presented by the National Treasury,” Kanini Kega, the committee chair, states in the report tabled in the National Assembly this week.

“The committee observed that the additional requests include one-off expenditures amounting to Sh11.7 billion which are unavoidable under the current circumstances given the lapsing of the 12th Parliament.”

The Sh4.2 billion car grants will see the newly elected MPs get new vehicles at taxpayers’ expense, underlining the burden of keeping the lawmakers comfortable.

The legislators are currently entitled to a Sh7 million car loan, in addition to a Sh5 million car grant and Sh20 million mortgage.

However, the Sh4.2 billion translates to a Sh10 million car grant for each of the 418 members, signaling a push to double the benefit from Sh5 million.

The increase comes at time car prices have soared on supply chain constraints and depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against the dollar.

This is likely to make it difficult for MPs to acquire luxury fuel guzzlers that befit their status.

Car loans advanced to MPs attract an annual interest of three percent in an economy where the average borrowing rate is 12.34 percent and recovered within their five-year term

The Sh6.6 billion gratuity will benefit the current lawmakers’ staff including drivers, office secretaries, county workers, and personal assistants whose monthly pay is met by taxpayers.

MPs who fail to make a comeback after the poll will either get millions in one-off payment or a lifelong pension depending on terms served.

The Parliamentary Pensions Act indicates that MPs who serve for more than two consecutive terms are entitled to a Sh125,000 monthly pension for the rest of their lives.

For MPs who lose after serving one term, they are refunded the equivalent of three times their monthly contribution for pension including interest at 15 percent.

Increases in MPs pay is an emotive issue with the public which sees the move as insensitive given the economic hardships in the country.

The government has come down hard especially on civil servants in a bid to tame the rising wage bill but has found it difficult to stop MPs who predicate passing the budget on approval of their perks.

Many Kenyans view members of parliament as symbols of a greedy political culture, seeking public office as an opportunity for personal gain at the expense of a country mired in poverty and where the unemployment rate stands at more than 30 percent.

They argued they needed high wages because constituents expected them to provide charitable support.

Some also said that MPs could be vulnerable to bribes if their salaries were set too low.