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House no longer attractive as MPs face allowance cuts

Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe

Parliament will no longer be as attractive as it has been following stringent measures put in place by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to scrap benefits and allowances.

Key among the benefits is a generous car loan amounting to Sh7million repayable at an annual interest rate of three per cent, which is repaid by the end of each term. With the abolishing of car loans, the taxpayer is set to save Sh2.9 billion from the 416 legislators.

Yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta welcomed the move to keep the wage bill at sustainable levels and directed every public servant, State officer and Kenyans to support the work of the Commission, and to abide by its guidelines.

“I call upon every Kenyan to support the Commission’s recommendations, and Jubilee Administration’s quest to keep the wage bill at sustainable levels. The days of wasteful allowances and peculiar but inexplicable payments are behind us,” he said.

The President said the only way to secure a strong economy is to manage Kenya’s finances prudently by restraining recurrent expenditure so as to enable the country spend more on socio-economic development programmes such as education and roads, among others.

To achieve the development, President Uhuru said in a statement, public servants must be paid fairly, but within the country’s means. However, the recommendations by SRC are likely to face stiff challenge from MPs who are likely to defy and review them as has been the case in the recent past.

The argument has been that Parliamentary Service Commission is an independent entity free to make its own budgetary provisions. MPs, who will serve in the 12th Parliament are set to lose much more benefit and allowances, but the most critical will be the mileage allowances which had become a cash cow by the lawmakers.

The weekly mileage allowances which SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem (pictured) has deemed it fit to abolish is paid out as reimbursement for travel costs to their constituencies. Legislators are also set to have their mortgage slashed after SRC indicated that the Sh20 million will be reviewed.

Lawmakers have allegedly been cheating their way by colluding with parliamentary staff to falsify documents to indicate that a member had travelled upcountry while he/she was in Nairobi.

With the abolition of the mileage allowances, the taxpayer is set to save millions paid during the term. Rates differ since they are paid per kilometre, with MPs from far-flung areas of northern Kenya earning millions of shillings monthly.

Each member is entitled to claim a weekly refund of Sh109 per km up to 750 km and thereafter 70 per cent or Sh76.30 per km. The provision has been favourable for MPs from northern Kenya who earn up to Sh1 million monthly.

Parliamentary and committee sittings will no longer be enticing as they used to be after the allowances were abolished. Some MPs report to the House to literally append his or her signature for the Sh5,000 allowance.

MPs will, however, retain medical cover for self and family. It amounts to Sh10 million for inpatient and Sh300,000 for outpatient, among other benefits.

Gratuity and pension payments at the end of Parliament’s five-year term will also be reviewed by the commission. MPs in the last Parliament took home Sh3.7 million (Sh61,666 a month) as gratuity and a pension that worked out to Sh121,600 a month.

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