Government waste is no secret. It is not only surprising some of things that the government spends money on, but also how much it spends on things that the public would consider frivolous. The most recent example of such wastage – 200,000 shilling seats for parliamentarians.
Two years after the promulgation of the constitution the President opened parliament’s new, 920 million shilling, chamber meant to accommodate the expanded parliament that will be the product of the next election. The most startling feature of the new parliamentary chamber is the 200,000-shilling seats for the members of parliament.
According to the press “The chamber now has between 350 and 400 individualised seats for MPs, and 20 mobile seats to cater for any extra numbers. The retractable seats will be numbered and labelled with the MPs names.” “Every seat is installed with a computer monitor to enable intra-communication within the chamber. The ultra modern debating chamber is set to give members greater sitting space, ambience, and personal comfort.”
So now not only will we have some the highest paid parliamentarians in the world, but also most comfortably seated. According to the BBC the seats are the most expensive in the commonwealth. Putting the issue in context, the problem is not that parliament’s chambers were refurbished to accommodate the new numbers; the problem is not even the acquisition of new seats. The issue is what the absurdly ridiculous cost of the chairs represents – i.e. the government’s misplaced priorities.
Even as millions of Kenyans face difficult economic times, the government continues to spend money on some of the craziest and most frivolous things imaginable. It is clear from the government’s decision to spend 200,000 shillings each on individualised seats for between 350-400 members of parliament that spending other peoples money rarely compels one to be as prudent as they would be if they were spending their own. Even worse, it appears the government spend money on what they want, and not what the taxpayer needs. If given the chance I wonder if any taxpayer would have put the 920 million shilling refurbishment of parliament, complete with 200,000-shilling seats, at the top of the list of spending priorities for the country.