Former PM Raila Odinga big winner in new retirement Bill


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KENYA: CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka will receive tens of millions of shillings in retirement pay and perks under a private Bill that has government backing.

The Bill also proposes a mouthwatering send-off package for Deputy President William Ruto, former Speaker Kenneth Marende, the current Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate; their deputies, the current Chief Justice and his deputy; the Chief of Defence Forces, and the Attorney General.

However, the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2013 sponsored by Suba MP John Mbadi will come at great cost to taxpayers should it sail through Parliament, which resumes on September 17.

The S alaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has calculated that for all these officers to enjoy the perks, taxpayers will have to part with Sh484 million every year.

Some members of a Parliamentary committee scrutinising the Bill Tuesday expressed astonishment that such colossal amounts could be spent on retirees per year. They asked SRC to give them an itemised budget.

The Bill proposes cars, office and domestic workers, fully equipped offices, diplomatic passports and VIP access to all local airports for retired senior figures and their spouses.

The staff includes cleaners, cooks, gardeners, drivers, accountants, personal assistants, housekeepers and secretaries, plus armed bodyguards.

The Bill also seeks to have the vehicles provided maintained by taxpayers. SRC made the calculations based on the fact that the Bill recommends that the pension be 80 per cent of the basic pay that the officers earned while they were in office, plus house, fuel and medical allowances. These together with a full medical cover for local and overseas treatment.

Former Prime Minister Odinga and former Vice-President Musyoka would each receive Sh84 million yearly as pension, and salaries for their workers, their vehicles, plus all those other perks.

Marende and the CJ would cost Sh62 million per year; the AG and Chief of Defence Forces would cost Sh48 million per year while the deputy CJ would weigh in at Sh51 million in retirement.

When Mr Ruto retires, he will cost the taxpayers Sh84.7 million per year if the proposals are implemented in full.

He will also be entitled to two drivers, a personal assistant, an accountant, a secretary, two housekeepers, two senior support staff, two gardeners, two cooks, two cleaners and armed guards provided on request.

The perks also include diplomatic passports for self and spouse, a fully equipped office, maintenance of vehicles as well as access to VIP lounges.

Sarah Serem, SRC chairperson, told the committee that the retirement benefits were justified. She noted that Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had already submitted a similar Bill for analysis and concurrence of the commission.

SRC also called for a review of the presidential perks, saying there was a likelihood of the country paying pensions for a period equal to the salary that was earned when one was in active service.

“Given the likelihood of the country having young presidents means that the liability of paying pension to a retired president who is young is very high as it is payable over a long period,” Serem noted in a brief presented to the committee.

She insisted that the pensions for the retired officers should be pegged to the salaries they drew during their tenure in office. She said it would be “bad practice” to peg the pensions to the pay of other office holders or the pay of the current office holders.

“It is never going to be sustainable to peg pension to the current salary. They should earn pension based on what they earned when they were in office,” said Serem.

She added: “It is good to give pension, but it has to be modest and sustainable.” Besides, she pointed out that the AG and the Chief of Defence Forces should be exempted from the list. She said the AG would fall under a separate law that will prescribe the retirement benefits for State Officers.

“The (military) has an elaborate pension system. It is not appropriate to incorporate them in this Bill,” said Serem.

Finance Committee chairman, Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi), agreed. He also sought to have the deputy Speakers taken care of for their service as MPs, but Mbadi said the deputy Speakers deserved a special package “because they work almost the same as the Speaker.”

The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) was also represented at the meeting.

The meeting at Parliament buildings with the SRC, CIC and the House Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade, is a fresh attempt to ensure Odinga, Musyoka and Marende get hefty perks for the service they rendered during their time in the coalition

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