Kibaki rejects MPs’ Sh2bn send-off pay

Wednesday October 10 2012

The President objected to the amendment on the grounds that it was first unconstitutional and secondly untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country.

The President objected to the amendment on the grounds that it was first unconstitutional and secondly untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country. Photo|FILE|NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

President Kibaki on Tuesday night shattered the MPs dream of a Sh2 billion sweatheart send off when he declined to sanction the deal stating the country’s economy was unable to shoulder an extra financial burden.

The Head of State refused to assent to the Finance Bill, 2012, saying that the country could not afford the colossal perks that the MPs had awarded themselves in form of a severance package. (READ: MPs award themselves Sh2bn bonus in secret deal)

“The President objected to the amendment on the grounds that it was first, unconstitutional and second, untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country,” a dispatch from State House Nairobi said.

Perhaps convinced by the countrywide protests at the arrangement, he stopped the hopes of MPs passing the amendments for a Sh9.3 million severance allowance in the Finance Bill, 2012—through which the Treasury hoped to raise Sh40 billion more in new tax measures—then the President would be forced to give it the nod.

But he signed into law amendments to electoral laws that extended the period to January 4, 2013 by which MPs should have identified a political party on which to vie for a seat in the next General Election.

A statement from State House said the President had objected to the Finance Amendment Bill (2012) because it was “unconstitutional and untenable.”

“Coming shortly after the increment of salaries for teachers and doctors, the severance pay for Parliamentarians would lead to an unsustainable wage bill,” said part of the statement which also argued that the huge payout would compel the government to forfeit other compelling programs.

This means that the lawmakers will now have to yield to the President’s demands; or raise the two-thirds majority required to overturn the President’s decision and force him to sign the Bill into law.

The MPs, being State Officers, had flouted the legal requirement to leave the issue of pay to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

They will also have to review the amendment that they approved to have all regulations by the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the SRC subjected to parliamentary approval.

This amendment had been designed to ensure that they had the final say to decide the pay.

Lately, the MPs have been unable to raise the requisite numbers. But MPs did not come out empty handed. The President okayed the amendment in the Elections Act to extend the period within which an aspirant should have chosen the political party on which to seek nomination and contest a political seat in the forthcoming general elections to January 4, 2013.

Prostesting move

Earlier, Kenyans had taken to the streets of Nairobi to protest against the move. They expressed their disapproval and described the lawmakers as “economic terrorists”. (SEE IN PICTURES: Protest over MPs' bonus)

Mr Robert Alai, an activist with the Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook, urged President Kibaki not to sign the Bill through which the lawmakers awarded themselves the gratuity.

“The country is going through very hard economic times calling for more belt-tightening measures, but MPs are already overpaid and underworked yet they decide to award themselves Sh2 billion,” he said.

The protesters waved banners with messages “We do not have money for greedy MPs” and “Kenyans against impunity” as they marched through the city centre to Parliament.

They chanted: “Hatutaki vitendawili” (We don’t want proverbs).

“The performance of the MPs is below par and does not warrant such a huge pay,” said Sheik Ahmed Ramadhan of the Bunge la Mwananchi.