President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to reject the proposed Parliamentary Service Commission Bill, 2018, in which MPs are seeking to enhance their perks which include house allowances, car loans and an enhanced insurance cover.
The Head of State, who spoke at Ndumberi Stadium in Kiambu County today, said Kenyans are tired and angry with lawmakers who keep increasing their earnings at their expense.
President Kenyatta, who was in the county to launch “Raisi Mashinani”, a mobile service delivery unit, promised not to approve the bill, which has attracted growing public condemnation, regardless of whether it will cost him the goodwill of the National Assembly.
“I have to say this, and I know many people will get angry with me … there are some things people (MPs) are trying to pass in the assembly (and) what I have heard wananchi saying is that they are tired of this behaviour by MPs of always increasing their salaries; and I am in support and, even if you (MPs) hate me I will not retreat, and if you bring it (the bill) I will shoot it down (sic),” he said.
President Kenyatta has in the past made clear his opposition to the bill, terming it an unnecessary burden on Kenyans, prompting fears among lawmakers that he may not assent to it.
But a section of MPs from across the political divide have maintained that they will mobilise their colleagues to pass the bill – which is in its final stages at the National Assembly, having gone past the Second Reading notwithstanding President Kenyatta’s opposition and the public mood.
While speaking during a stopover in Kiambu Town after the Ndumberi event, Mr Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, Senator Kimani Wamatangi and a host of MPs, asked the electorate to vote out selfish and greedy leaders.
“I am telling them that whoever will demand and increase their earnings or allow it to happen should know that four years is not a long time, because they will just receive a ‘P.O Box home’ (rejection). They should stop playing around with public money because it is meant for development,” he said.
The bill by the Justice and Legal Affairs committee chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo seeks to empower the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to handle the legislators’ welfare, including reviewing their benefits.
It has proposed a new clause in the bill, which would make it mandatory that all the 416 MPs in the National Assembly and Senate get a house allowance, a vehicle fuelled and maintained by the taxpayer and a car loan.
The committee also wants an enhanced medical cover for MPs and that a budget be set aside for each of the 290 constituencies for monitoring and evaluation of national government projects, as well as public participation in parliamentary affairs.
The lawmakers’ medical scheme provides Sh10 million inpatient cover per family, Sh300,000 for outpatient, Sh150,000 for maternity and Sh75,000 for dental care.
They also have a Sh7 million car grant and a Sh20 million mortgage facility.
Opposition and ODM party leader Raila Odinga has spoken on the issue, saying, “Parliamentary Service Commission Bill is a case of grand larceny, and an anti-people and insensitive demand that should be disowned and rejected as inappropriate and unacceptable to a great majority of Kenyans, if not all, at this time”.