Senators seek millions in fresh pay rise plan

Tuesday September 2 2014

Senators Paul Wamatangi (left), Chris Machage (centre) and George Khaniri during a meeting at Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa on August 1, 2014. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA

Senators Paul Wamatangi (left), Chris Machage (centre) and George Khaniri during a meeting at Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa on August 1, 2014. FILE PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Senators are asking for an increase in their allowances running into millions of shillings, money they say is necessary to serve the public.

New perks will cover such items as office expenses and a special, one-off allocation to furnish their offices and buy off-road vehicles.

The 67 legislators have made proposals, which are likely to be seen as further bloating the public wage bill, to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

If the proposals are accepted, the lawmakers, who have been in office for just 15 months, will earn a total of Sh2.4 million a month.

They will also get another Sh2.4 million to furnish their offices at the beginning of their terms. It is not clear whether the offices will require to be furnished after every election.

ENJOYING THE PERKS

A proposed pay structure seen by the Nation will be submitted to the PSC on Thursday for approval and the lawmakers could begin enjoying the perks as soon as the end of this month. It was prepared by House leaders from both sides of the divide.

According to the structure, each senator will get Sh780,000 for “personnel emoluments”, while senators in counties with more than four constituencies will earn 10 per cent more for each additional constituency, meaning, a senator representing a county with 10 constituencies will be paid an additional Sh468,000.

Another proposal is Sh420,000 a month for “office consumables and operations”. This will presumably go to pay for office items such as stationery and tea.

'COUNTY ALLOWANCE'

They also want a Sh500,000 “county allowance” to be given to the 47 elected senators.

Senators have often complained that they do not have county offices. They says they are at the mercy of governors, on whom they depend to provide working space.

Now they want a Sh168,000 monthly allocation for office rent in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and Sh140,000 for other counties.

Elected senators are asking that taxpayers buy them four-wheel-drive cars, which will remain parked at the county offices when the lawmakers are in Nairobi.

In total, the lawmakers could get at least Sh2.4 million — and a nice car.

TASK FORCE

An eight-member task force was formed to look into senators’ complaints that their current Sh532,000 basic salary is inadequate.

The pay structure is the product of the task force’s work.

Several Kamukunjis (informal parliamentary meetings) were held to discuss how to ask for more money to help senators travel to and manage county offices.

The 20 nominated senators, who do not have a vote in the House, will be provided with equipped offices in Nairobi. They will also get a secretary, a driver and a personal assistant.

In a report to be given to the PSC, the task force, chaired by Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura, said the money would help senators to “effectively discharge their mandate within their respective counties”.

Other members of the task force formed on July 10 are Prof Kithure Kindiki (Majority Leader), Mr Moses Wetang’ula (Minority Leader), Ms Beatrice Elachi (Majority Whip), Mr Billow Kerrow (chairman, Finance Committee), Geroge Khaniri (Vihiga), Mr Paul Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Ms Janet Ongera (nominated, deputy Minority Whip).

The group sought views from all the senators before coming up with the new pay structure.

FAVOURITISM

Senators have in the past criticised the PSC, saying it favoured members of the National Assembly.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi chairs the PSC, while nominated Senator Beth Mugo is the vice-chairwoman.

Other MPs sitting in it are Adan Keynan, Jimmy Angwenyi, Gladys Wanga and Regina Chengorok.

Senators in the commission are David Musila and Sammy Leshore. Senate clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye is the secretary.

The commission takes care of the welfare of legislators, but it has been used in the past to satisfy the lawmakers’ appetite for fat pay.

Also asking for more money are members of county assemblies and teachers.

Doctors and nurses in parts of the county are on strike because they have not been paid their salaries.