Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has started receiving Sh1.32 million in monthly pension as the State retains another Sh655 million for a fully furnished office, limousines and salaries for scores of aides pending his retirement from party politics.
Mr Kenyatta has been receiving the Sh1.32 million monthly pay from December 1 and was paid a lump sum of Sh39.6 million, according to Treasury documents seen by the Business Daily.
The former president has to formally retire from party politics to access a retirement benefits budget of Sh655 million for a fully furnished office, aides and luxury cars.
It is understood that the State is avoiding breaching sections of the law that bar a retired president from holding office in a political party six months after retirement.
“A retired president shall not hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office as president,” says the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act.
Mr Kenyatta was in February last year offered a five-year term as head of Jubilee Party and is listed as chairman of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition’s council, the vehicle veteran Opposition leader Raila Odinga used to launch his fifth unsuccessful stab for Kenya’s presidency.
The law allows the Treasury to provide a retired president with a monthly pension of Sh693,000 and other perks like house allowance, fuel and entertainment and utilities irrespective of political affiliation.
“The former president applied for his pension a few weeks after President Ruto’s swearing-in. We processed and made the first payment in December,” said a top Treasury official, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
Dr William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth President on September 12, a week after the Supreme Court upheld his victory following a petition by Mr Odinga.
Mr Odinga had accused Dr Ruto of cheating his way to victory in the closely fought election.
A retired president’s once-a-month pension is set at 80 percent of his pensionable salary, which is equivalent to 60 percent of Sh1.44 million monthly pay offered to the sitting president.
He also has other perks such as fuel, house and entertainment allowances, which push the overall benefits above the salaries and allowances of top chief executives of State-owned firms like KenGen, Kenya-Re, and Kenya Power.
Benefits of the retired presidents have come under sharp focus, especially in the past couple of years when allocations increased by large margins, even as the government insisted that it had put in place austerity measures to contain a growing public sector wage bill.
In 2015, the High Court stopped the government from paying allowances worth millions of shillings to former President Daniel arap Moi and former President Kibaki after finding that they were an unnecessary burden to the taxpayers.
The Attorney-General appealed the decision, allowing them to continue enjoying the high pay.
Moi and Kibaki are deceased.
Sections of the law that the court nullified entitled the two to a Sh300,000 house allowance per month, fuel (Sh200,000), entertainment (Sh200,000) and utilities (Sh300,000).
The law also entitles them to two personal assistants, four secretaries, four messengers as well as four drivers and bodyguards, pushing the office and home workers to 34 under the scheme funded by taxpayers.
Retired presidents are also entitled to four cars, including two limousines, which are replaced every four years. They have full medical cover and fully furnished offices.
But Mr Kenyatta must first stop his dealings in a political party to access these other perks.
The lavish exit package offered to retired presidents has come under heavy criticism on grounds that some of the former officials left office as rich men with property worth billions of shillings and vast business interests.
The Kenyatta family owns a significant stake in NCBA Group — following a merger between Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and NIC Bank — which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
The Kenyattas control about 13.2 percent of NCBA Group, valuing their stake at Sh8.15 billion based on the bank’s market valuation of Sh61.7 billion at the close of trading on Wednesday.
Their investments include Brookside Dairy and the upmarket hotel chain, Heritage Hotels East Africa.
The family is also linked to Media Max Company -- which owns K24 TV, Kameme Radio and the People Daily newspaper -- and thousands of acres of prime land across Kenya.