The salaries commission has caved in to MPs demands for huge salaries and benefits.
Each of the 416 Senators and Members of Parliament will now receive a Sh5 million grant to buy new luxury cars.
They will also benefit from higher mileage rates, where those driving petrol engine vehicles with capacities of between 2,000cc and 3,000cc would claim Sh109.80 per kilometre, while those with capacities of between 3,001cc and 4,800cc would rake in Sh197.80 for a similar distance.
The Saturday Nation established that the grant will cost the taxpayer a whopping Sh2.08 billion.
In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on April 18, Salaries and Remunerations Commission chairperson Sarah Serem reversed an earlier decision converting the MPs’ car purchase grant into a loan.
According to that decision, MPs would have been allowed access to up to Sh7 million car loan refundable within five years.
This was criticized by parliamentarians as unfair and punitive.
Following the latest development, Senators and MPs would each access the non-refundable cash to buy cars as soon as Parliament is ready to pay out.
On Friday, National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi confirmed that Parliament received the letter from the SRC clearing the air over the car cash.
“It is true we received a letter from the SRC allowing a grant of Sh5 million per member to buy cars, but we have not implemented that yet because negotiations on other aspects of the package are still ongoing,” Mr Bundi said.
Further talks to raise MPs salaries from a monthly taxable pay of Sh532,000 to over Sh800,000 are also ongoing.
Last week, Igembe Central MP Mithika Linturi threatened to move a motion in Parliament seeking to send home Mrs Serem’s commission over the salaries row.
Said Mr Bundi: “There are so many contentious issues that must be resolved first before we can start facilitating the members.”
Lawmakers driving diesel engine vehicles rated between 2,000cc and 3,000cc would claim Sh84 per kilometre, while those driving cars with capacities of between 3,000cc and 4,800cc would claim Sh112.50.
Several MPs had objected to an earlier proposal limiting mileage claims to a maximum of 1,800cc engine capacity cars. In the 10th Parliament, the rates were fixed at Sh55 per kilometre.
Since 2002, the Parliamentary Service Commission has been giving newly-elected MPs a Sh3.3 million grant to buy cars, whose duty was paid for by the State.
On Friday, Mrs Serem could not be reached for comment as her phone went unanswered. She also failed to respond to our text messages.
“It is very unfair that the SRC had proposed that claims would be limited to cars of less 1,800cc, which most MPs do not use when they visit their constituencies,” said Suba MP John Mbadi.
While MPs have also complained about lack of office space, some senators are also unhappy with how they have been treated.
Igamba Ng’ombe MP Onesmus Muthomi said some MPs were now operating from their cars due to lack of offices.
“We are finding it very difficult to operate because we were not lucky to get offices. The offices at Continental Building were allocated to MPs serving their second term and beyond. The remaining offices were allocated by balloting, now about 160 of us are operating from the streets,” Mr Muthomi said.
He said the situation is worse for MPs from rural areas who were not residents of Nairobi as they have to operate from their hotel rooms.
Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi said the facilitation accorded to senators was inadequate. “We have been allocated single-room offices with no staff and assistants. Treating senators like ordinary MPs is unfair,” Mr Murungi stated.
But responding to the matter, Mr Bundi said the Senate and the National Assembly were working round the clock to ensure that all MPs are facilitated to discharge their responsibilities accordingly.
He said that more office space would be ready for close to 100 MPs who missed out in the previous allocations by Tuesday and that all the 67 senators would be relocated to the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Additional space would be created at Harambee Plaza and Jogoo House.