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Treasury to end funding of Moi office, lay off staff

The late President Moi
The late President Moi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Treasury is set to stop funding the office of late president Daniel arap Moi in what will save taxpayers hundreds of millions in retirement benefits offered to the former head of State.

Moi, who died on February 4, had been receiving retirement benefits since leaving office in 2002, including a fleet of luxury cars, a fully-furnished office and about 40 workers.

Now, the Treasury says that the office will cease to exist, and some of the workers will be declared redundant.

A source at the Treasury who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “The law does not support further payment linked to the Moi retirement benefits and we expect the office to be wound up over the next three months.

The Treasury will not have an allocation for the Moi office in the new financial year and his pension pay will be stopped this month if the law is applied strictly.

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Moi had been receiving a hefty monthly pension equivalent to 80 percent of the salary paid to the sitting president. He was also entitled to other perks like fuel, house and entertainment allowances running into hundreds of thousands of shillings.

Running Moi’s office and that of former president Mwai Kibaki will cost the public Sh243 million in the year to June, with compensation to their own staff, excluding staff seconded from the government, taking Sh126 million. Aides seconded from the government, including press secretaries and security officers, are paid by the parent ministry. Should the law be applied, the Treasury estimates that the cost of maintaining former presidents in retirement will fall by nearly Sh250 million.

Moi came to power in 1978 after Jomo Kenyatta died. He remained in power until the end of 2002. He held power for longer than any other Kenyan leader since independence and critics saw him as an authoritarian ruler, while allies credited him for maintaining stability in a region rocked by political and civil strife.

Retirement benefits for former presidents have come under sharp focus, especially in the past couple of years when allocations increased by large margins, even as the government insisted it had put in place austerity measures to deal with a burgeoning recurrent expenditure, including the wage bill.

Data from the Treasury shows that Mr Moi’s and Mr Kibaki’s monthly pay and perks stood Sh74 million in the year to June, up from Sh64 million in the same period a year earlier. If awarded equally, their package for the current year assures each a monthly payout of Sh3 million — an amount that is more than twice President Kenyatta’s official salary of Sh1.44 million. It also puts the benefits of the two at par with the salary and benefits of top chief executives of State-owned firms like KenGen and Kenya Power.

In 2015, a High Court judge stopped the government from paying allowances worth millions of shillings to the two after finding that they were an unnecessary expense. The Attorney-General has since appealed the decision, allowing the two to continue enjoying their retirement emoluments.

Sections of the law that the court nullified entitled Mr Kibaki and Moi to a Sh300,000 house allowance per month, fuel (Sh200,000), entertainment (Sh200,000) and utilities (Sh300,000). The law also entitled them to two personal assistants, four secretaries, four messengers, four drivers and bodyguards, pushing the office and home workers to 34 under the scheme funded from public coffers. They are also entitled to four cars that are replaced every four years.

The government also caters for workers at Mr Kibaki’s Nairobi office that was bought at Sh250 million three years ago, and Moi’s office at Kabarnet Gardens, off Ngong Road.

Mr Kibaki stepped down as president in 2013 after serving two five-year terms.

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