Members of Parliament have defeated a Treasury proposal to cut Sh600,000 allocated to each lawmaker for furnishing their private offices.
The MPs on Thursday voted to retain the allocations as they passed recommendations by the Treasury announcing budget reductions ranging from power transmission projects, free laptops for schools and repair of damaged roads.
But lawmakers were hesitant to touch the allocations meant to offer comfort to their private offices after Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) raised the red flag on lack of funds to revamp the offices following the budget cuts.
The Treasury announced budget cuts of Sh55 billion on lower revenue collection fears, but MPs reduced the cuts to Sh37.6 billion, leaving a Sh18 billion hole.
“The current computers are old and less functional besides being unable to keep up with current technology. This will further affect members’ ability to discharge their duties due to poor communication,” PSC said.
The PSC — the lawmakers employer — reckons there is need to buy office furniture, supplies, personal computers, printers and other IT equipment.
It further said some landlords had increased rent for the offices the MPs have leased in private office blocks.
The number of lawmakers increased following the creation of new constituencies and the post of women representatives under the 2010 Constitution, creating need for new space outside Continental House.
The office allocation will cost taxpayers Sh250 million for the 416 MPs in the National Assembly and the Senate.
Kenyan MPs are among the highest paid legislators in Africa, and the upgrade will add to the comfort offered to them at taxpayers’ expense.
In the last financial year ended June, Parliament also fought off a Treasury proposal to cut the refurbishment cost of MPs’ offices that has been priced at nearly Sh1 million for each lawmaker.
The Treasury had proposed a Sh95 million budget or an average of Sh228,365 for each MP, which was rejected.