Recently the country has watched in incredulity as members of parliament have legislated massive payouts to be made to themselves at the end of their term. The three of payments of note are; the gratuity of almost 1 billion shillings to be paid out MPs at the end of current parliament, the President’s gratuity and pension, and the Kshs. 500 million to for MPs back taxes. Now parliament seeking to amend legislation to increase both the amount of responsibility allowance and the number of persons in parliament entitled to responsibility allowance. Not only this but MPs want the responsibility allowance backdated to 2006, and possibly 2003.
According to the Standard “last month Parliament approved a new responsibility allowance for key MPs this allowance is to be back dated to January 2006, and if the motion to amend Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, a bill that allows government to make changes to various laws succeeds the responsibility allowance will be back dated July 2003.”
Responsibility allowance was previously paid only to the House Speaker and Leader of Government Business. However if the amendment is passed the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, and four members of the Chairman’s Panel will each receive 2.4 million shillings for every year served from 2006. And the 9 members of the Parliamentary Service Commission will also receive 1.2 million shillings for every year served since 2006. Other amendments will entitle the Speaker to Kshs. 20,000 for each time he presides over parliamentary business. The Deputy Speaker and four temporary speakers will be entitled to Kshs. 15, 000 and Kshs. 12,500 respectively for every time they fill-in for the House Speaker. Considering that parliament sits three times a week, for several weeks in the year, and the payments are to be backdated from either 2006 or 2003 the amount really adds up. It is estimated that the government will pay at least 200 million shillings in responsibility allowances to dozens of current and former MPs if the amendments are passed.
I’m not sure what the exact definition of responsibility allowance is, particularly since those entitled to it already receive a salary to carry out their responsibilities. What I am sure of is, a year and a bit since the promulgation of the new constitution it would seem that members of parliament have either forgotten, or wilfully refused to heed to Chapter 6 of the constitution which calls all state officers, MPs included, to provide selfless service based solely on the public interest; accountability to the public for decisions and actions, as well as discipline and commitment in service to the people.