MPs seek ‘virtual meeting’ laptops at taxpayer cost


Telecom operators will pay customers up to Sh30 per day for dropped calls if Parliament adopts a revived Bill that imposes a penalty for voice service outages. PHOTO | POOL

Taxpayers will spend millions of shillings on acquisition of laptops to enable MPs participate in virtual meetings if lawmakers approve a report recommending ways for the House to beat Covid-19 disruptions.

The taxpayer is likely to pick up a bill of up to Sh105 million for purchase of laptops for the 350 MPs, assuming each gets an Apple MacBook Pro, whose cost is as high as Sh300,000.

The Sh105 million excludes the cost of buying laptops for the 68 Senators, including the speaker.

“The committee recommends that the National Assembly should consider facilitating members of the National Assembly with laptops for the conduct of virtual meetings,” said parliamentary Broadcasting and Library Committee in report tabled in Parliament last Thursday.

The committee, among other findings, said MPs preferred laptops to iPads for the virtual meetings.

Kenyan MPs are among the world’s best-paid lawmakers but the Covid-19 induced pause in meetings has denied legislators opportunities to boost their earnings through a string of perks like mileage, sitting and subsistence allowances earned from local and foreign travel.

MPs also draw Sh5,000 per committee sitting, with the chair taking home Sh10,000. Vice chairpersons draw Sh7,500.

Other perks include domestic subsistence (Sh19,000), house allowance (Sh250,000) and medical (Sh10 million).

Besides their fat salaries, MPs are entitled to a Sh5 million car grant, a Sh20 million mortgage, and a Sh7 million car loan.

The free laptops recommendation on the provision of free laptops for MPs follows findings of a task force the National Assembly clerk appointed to explore all options available on a possible technology solution suitable for the House to conduct both its chamber sittings as well as committee business while adhering to the Ministry of Health protocols on containment of Covid-19.