MPs make U-turn on hefty perks after Uhuru threat


National Assembly in session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

MPs shelved the passage of a Bill that seeks to entrench their hefty perks in law a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta threatened to reject it.

The Parliamentary Service Bill 2018, which is awaiting consideration in the committee stage was not listed in the Order Paper as one of the business to be transacted before MPs took a two month Christmas recess.

President Kenyatta on Wednesday vowed to reject the proposed Parliamentary Service Commission Bill, 2018, in which MPs are seeking to enhance their perks which include house allowances, car loans and an enhanced insurance cover.

Mr Kenyatta, who spoke at Ndumberi Stadium in Kiambu, said Kenyans are tired and angry with lawmakers who keep increasing their earnings at their expense.

He promised not to approve the Bill, regardless of whether it would cost him the goodwill of the National Assembly.

The Bill seeks to give power to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), the MPs employer, to handle the lawmakers' welfare, including reviewing their benefits.

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo, in a report to the House, proposed amendments that if passed would hand all the 416 MPs in the National Assembly and Senate a house allowance, a vehicle fuelled and maintained by the taxpayer and a car loan.

The committee has also recommended an enhanced medical cover for MPs and budgetary allocation for each of the 290 constituencies for monitoring and evaluation of national government projects, as well as public participation in parliamentary affairs.

The PSC provides MPs with a medical scheme of Sh10 million for inpatient cover per family, Sh300,000 for outpatient, Sh150,000 for maternity and Sh75,000 for dental care.

The MPs are also entitled to a Sh7 million car grant and a mortgage facility of Sh20 million that is repayable at the end of their five-year term.

On Tuesday, MPs ganged up and accused parliamentary reporters of waging a campaign to malign them and portray Parliament as a House of greed.

Majority and Minority party leadership led an onslaught against the media for reporting that MPs plan to introduce amendments to the Bill at the third and final stage.

“The salaries of MPs are not set by the Parliamentary Service Commission but the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

“It is unfortunate that the media has succeeded to misinform Kenyans including President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on the contents of this Bill. Nowhere in the Bill talks about MPs salaries, house allowances or mileage,” Majority Leader Aden Duale said after Minority Leader Junet Mohamed interrupted House business to draw the attention of Speaker Justin Muturi to the "misleading media reports".