By Standard Digital Reporter
The MPs take time to pray amid many challenges facing the country from raging floods, terror attacks, high inflation rates, road accidents and bitter reactions about their attempts to increase their exit allowances and gratuity at the end of their term.
As the MPs engross themselves in deep prayers, The Standard Digital asks you to send your comments and join the debate by sending a message to Kenya’s MPs and the country’s leadership.
The prayer meeting of course elitist and by invitation, comes against a backdrop of public outrage at their latest cash-grab has had no effect on lawmakers’ greed.
At the meeting the MPs even crafted a male dominated choir which of course failed to meet the 30 percent threshold of either gender.
The choir armed with script of a 'holy hymn' mumbled through a few stanzas was made up of MPs Shakeel Shabir, Eugene Wamalwa, Kiema Kilonzo, Samuel Poghisio, James Rege and Erastus Mureithi among others.
Just weeks after sparking anger by irregularly awarding themselves close to Sh1 billion, Members of Parliament are set to get more money from taxpayers.
The Government plans to spend Sh200 million in payouts to dozens of current and former MPs in new allowances backdated to 2003. This is Sh60 million more than was approved in the Finance Act passed last month. The same Act provided for another Sh825 million in gratuity payments. The extra payments will go to lawmakers who are currently being pursued in court for some Sh30 million they awarded themselves.
Last month, the National Assembly approved a new responsibility allowance for key MPs that was to take effect from January 2006. The Government now wants to amend the Act to further backdate these allowances to July 1, 2003. This will increase the payouts by at least Sh60 million. The money will go to current and former members of the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Chairman’s Panel. This happens as civil society organisations challenge the initial payments in court, pointing out that MPs have no power to increase their pay.
Observers say the responsibility allowances are a political nod to about 30 potentially influential MPs ahead of the next General Election. The back-payments are designed to help some of them pay their way out of trouble with anti-corruption authorities. The lawmakers had been taken to court for illegally awarding themselves millions of shillings in 2006 while serving in the Parliamentary Service Commission.
Backdate to 2003
The change to backdate the allowances to 2003 is contained in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, an omnibus legislation the Government uses to make changes to various laws. Attorney General Githu Muigai introduced the Bill in Parliament on Thursday. It is scheduled for debate next week.
The latest change affects Section 23 of the Finance Act, which introduced new parliamentary office holders who will also benefit from the responsibility allowance. Previously, the allowance was only paid to the House Speaker and the Leader of Government Business (the Vice President).
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