While we slept our MPs worked on tirelessly through the night. After some debate (but not much) they awarded themselves an extra ‘golden handshake’ of Sh10 million each as a reward for all their hard work in Kenya’s Tenth Parliament and amended the Election Act to allow them to ‘hop’ political parties until January 3, 2013.
It was late last Thursday evening that MPs amended the Finance Act going through Parliament, an amendment moved by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan, so that they could all pick up the extra 10 million Bob. With 222 hungry Members of the National Assembly to cater for that’s a cost of Sh2.2bn to Kenya’s taxpayers (and the international ‘aid community’ might like to take notice as well).
SH3 BILLION IN SIX WEEKS
The Sh2.2bn is in addition to the Sh825 million in gratuities that MPs selflessly approved for themselves last month. So that’s approximately Sh3bn they have carved out of the public coffers in a little over six weeks, about the amount awarded to end the public sector doctors strike.
MPs currently ‘earn’ a gross salary of Sh851,000 per month (how do they make end’s meet?) so it’s no surprise that they want to keep their backsides on those very expensive seats recently installed in the parliament building.
MOBILE MONEY TRANSFER TO COST MORE
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Njeru Githae, announced that he’s looking to increase duty on mobile phone money transactions by 10 per cent, a move affecting some 20 million Kenyans and designed to bring in just over Sh2bn, roughly the cost of the extra ‘golden handshake’ awarded (by themselves) to 222 MPs. Neat arithmetic!
Mr Githae however, says he expects the money transfer service providers to meet the new costs and not pass them on to the customer. Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s Chief Executive, says the company is still considering whether to pass on the additional cost to customers. The Kenya Forum thinks we all know the answer to that deliberation.
So tough times ahead for Kenyan taxpayers (who will also soon have to contribute more to the NSSF and NHIF) and don’t think you will just be able to drown your sorrows. Finance Minister Githae is also planning to increase duty on beer, wines and cider by 10 per cent.
KEEPING BUMS ON ASSEMBLY SEATS
What with ‘Golden handshakes’, Sh851,000 per month salary and other little perks that go with the job, it’s no wonder our MPs want to go on representing the people but with an election just over the horizon they are obviously nervous that they may lose their seats (in more ways than one).
So again late last Thursday evening, Kenya’s MPs thought of the needs of the people – the needs of the people currently sitting in the House of Assembly that is.
ELECTION (AMENDMENT) ACT
With an amendment to the Elections Act, MPs extended the time during which they can hop from one party to another to try and make sure they are on the winning side.
The original Act stipulated that they had to belong to the party for which they will present themselves to the electorate by October 4, 2012 – last Thursday. Now they can hop from one political bed all they way through to early January, 2013.
The Finance Act and Elections (Amendment) Act await President Kibaki’s signature to become law. Don’t sign them Your Excellency, says the Kenya Forum.