MPs move to give ex-Speakers more money

Wednesday June 12 2019

PENSION

Former Kenya Power board chairman Kenneth Marende. The Budget and Appropriations Committee made him and two other former speakers beneficiaries of the current budget. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PAUL WAFULA
By PAUL WAFULA
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They are already well taken care of by the taxpayer and despite being rewarded with retirement jobs in boards of parastatals, Parliament has proposed to give the three retired Speakers another reason to remain on the government’s payroll.

This is after the Budget and Appropriations Committee made the three retired some of the beneficiaries of the current budget alongside former presidents.

The team has asked the Parliamentary Service Commission to budget for an extra Sh120 million.

“The committee is recommending that the Parliamentary Service Commission should budget for the other pensions requirement for the three retired Speakers of Parliament in their votes beginning July 1, 2019,” the report says.

Speakers are currently on State-sponsored retirement benefits under the Deputy President and Designated State Officers Act, which also caters for the pension of chief justices and their deputies as well vice presidents.

STATE JOBS

The former speakers - Kenneth Marende, Ekwee Ethuro and Francis ole Kaparo - are entitled to a monthly pension of Sh554,400, a lump sum send-off of Sh13.8 million and monthly fuel allowance of Sh173,250.

Mr Ethuro is currently serving a five-year term as the chairperson of the Higher Education Loans Board.

Until recently, Mr Marende was the chairman of the Kenya Power board. Mr Kaparo is the National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman. He is also the immediate chairman of National Environment Management Authority.

The move will now see their terms elevated to the same status enjoyed by former Presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki.

Retired presidents were allocated Sh1.5 billion and it is expected to rise to Sh2 billion in the medium term.

GRATUITY

But despite approving more money to make their lives in retirement more worthwhile, the Budget Committee says it is unable to know who gets what benefit given that it was not provided with explanatory notes.

“There are no explanatory notes as to why gratuities, a one-time payment usually given at the end of service, is being paid years after service and is spread out over the medium term,” the report says.

The report says in addition, the period calculations of these gratuity amounts are not provided and it is unknown whether the 10-year maximum constitutional term of the presidency was applied.

The report also found that a number of counties could be exploiting a loophole in the law to use money generated by hospitals to run their other functions contributing to the poor state of health facilities in the country.

HEALTHCARE

The committee says it was informed that funds designated for health services in the counties are treated as part of county revenues due to lack of a legal framework to give financial autonomy to health facilities.

“As such, it is possible that the counties could appropriate these funds for other purposes,” reads the report tabled in Parliament last week.

“In this regard, the Ministry of Health has submitted a proposal to amend the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 to provide a legal framework for financial autonomy,” it adds.

The report also says operalisation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme has been hit by a delay in four piloted counties.

There is also no summative report on the piloted counties which would inform the rollout to the remaining 43 counties.

The budget committee says despite this, the ministry is keen on rolling out scheme in the remaining counties and has requested Sh4.6 billion for that purpose.

EQUIPMENT SCHEME

The report also raises concern over the usage of the billions of shillings that have been pumped into the level five hospitals in the country over the last five years.

“The committee is concerned that despite conditional budgetary allocations to counties over the years to enhance service delivery, the hospitals still offer services that are below standards,” the report says.

It also points out that the managed equipment services project has been plagued by challenges ranging from lack of personnel to run the equipment to the counties not needing the equipment forced on them.

“It was posited that no allocation on the conditional grants should be approved until proper audit is carried out to ascertain utilisation and impact of these funds over the last four years,” the report adds.