100 MPs walked out before voting on interest rate capping law, says Speaker


Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

More than 100 MPs left the House before a vote on the presidential memorandum on interest rate caps law was taken, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has revealed.

Mr Muturi said 270 MPs were present in the House but only 161 were in the chamber when a head count was taken ahead of the vote.

This means that 109 MPs entered the chamber and left before the vote was taken.

The 270 MPs were more than the two thirds majority or 233 lawmakers needed to overturn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s memo repealing the interest rate capping law.

“With regard to the number of members who attended Wednesday’s sitting, I can confirm that the biometric register and the electronic log-in system indicate that a total of not less than 270 members were present at that sitting.

“Since at the time when I was ascertaining the threshold to make a decision on the Memorandum there were about 161 members present, you agree with me that the die had been cast, given that there was less than 233 members present,” Mr Muturi said following accusations by certain MPs that they were not given sufficient time to lobby.

“Kenyans have a right to know who comes into the chamber, stands at the door, logs in through the biometric system and walks out to wherever they go including to the bars,” he said.

The action by some MPs to leave the chamber ahead of the vote aided President Kenyatta’s bid to remove a cap on commercial lending rates that MPs enacted in September 2016.

The MPs capped commercial lending rates to not more than four percent above the Central Bank of Kenya base lending rate.

Tuesday’s quorum hitch opened the window on the possibility of return of expensive credit that had touched a high of 25 percent in 2016.

The MPs, however, managed to amend the Finance Bill, 2019 to shield existing loans from higher interest rates once Section 33B of the Banking Act is repealed with the signing of the Bill into law.

Mr Kenyatta is set to sign the Finance Bill, automatically securing the repeal of the rate cap law following MPs’ failure to raise the 233 members.

He accused unnamed MPs who appeared on TV stations of interviews of insincerity in claiming that sufficient notice was not given with regard to the day the President’s reservations on the law would be considered.