Economy

Voters punish 211 MPs in poll

parliament

Lawmakers at Parliament Buildings. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Over half of the 416 members of the bicameral parliament lost their seats in this year’s General Election and are now angling for a share of a cumulative Sh2.2 billion send-off package.

The electorate send home 211 members of the National Assembly and the Senate at the polls held last week.

In the National Assembly, 146 legislators who represented constituencies were sent packing while 34 of the 47 Woman Representatives were shown the door.

Voters dismissed 31 Senators out of the 47 elected lawmakers.

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The National Assembly consists of 349 members both elected and nominated. The Senate has 67 elected and nominated members bringing the total number of lawmakers to 416. Speakers of both Houses serve as ex-officio members.

The swoop suggests growing dissatisfaction by citizens with the performance of their representatives. The exiting parliament has been accused of having been overrun by the executive, weakening their oversight functions.

The 211 MPs emerging from the bruising campaign will now be looking at the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to process and forward their send-off package and lifelong pension to the Treasury for payment. MPs contribute 12.75 percent of their salaries for pension, while the government contributes a similar amount.

The Treasury had set aside Sh2.2 billion in the current budget as a send-off package for MPs who served in the 12th Parliament.

Lawmakers who serve two terms in Parliament are entitled to pension for the rest of their lives while those who do not make a second term get a refund equivalent to the amount contributed.

MPs, who have served two terms and whose last salary stood at Sh710,000, are guaranteed a lifelong pension of Sh125,000 per month.

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

In 2017, 196 one-term MPs who lost seats chose between the Sh6.7 million gratuity and a refund of their pension contributions made over the 52 months they were in the House.

At least 12 MPs have served more than one term in the outgoing 12th Parliament and will receive a monthly stipend of Sh125,000 for life besides their full pension payment.

They include former Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi who until last week’s poll was the longest serving lawmaker in the country having been elected for four consecutive terms.

Others are Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), Naomi Shaban (Taveta), Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Chachu Ganya (North Horr) and Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills).

The payout will bring to a close the five-year bonanza that the MPs — including senators and members of the National Assembly — have been enjoying since they arm-twisted the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to let them earn unlimited allowances from committee sittings.

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The SRC in July scraped sitting allowances in plenary sessions, which is likely to set it on a fresh collision course with new legislators.

The commission in a gazette notice said the cuts will save taxpayers over Sh1 billion every year in plenary sitting allowances earned in committees. But SRC retained committee sitting allowances.

MPs earn about Sh5,000 for every sitting and the abolishment of the allowances for plenary sessions in the National Assembly and Senate is meant to ease the pressure on public sector wage bill, which is currently at Sh930.5 billion annually.

The SRC, however, increased the basic pay for lawmakers by Sh134,000 to Sh710,000.

“Sitting allowance for plenary sessions is abolished and ceases to be payable,” said SRC Chairperson Lyn Mengich.

Committee sitting allowances for lawmakers have been capped at Sh120,000 per month while those for chairpersons and vice-chairpersons have been capped at Sh192,000 and Sh240,000 per month.

Kenyan lawmakers are some of the highest paid in the world attracting public outcry in an economy grappling with a high rate of unemployment and near stagnant wages for civil servants.

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