Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is on the spot following his decision to approve the release of funds for MPs’ house allowances.
Others in the firing line are the accounting officers of both Houses of Parliament who may have given out the allowances without the required legal instruments.
And as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission plans to move to court to challenge the payments, it is emerging that the CS authorised the release of funds even as he was well aware it was illegal.
In one of the back-and-forth letters between the institutions involved, and which the Saturday Nation has seen, the Treasury confirms that it released the funds to the National Assembly and the Parliamentary Service Commission.
“We wish to clarify that the Treasury funded the two entities according to their budgets. However, we advised the accounting officers to ensure the house allowance is paid in accordance with the law,” the May 8 letter from the Treasury to the SRC reads.
The letter was written just five days after the Nation published the story.
It is signed by Mr Bernard Ndung’u for PS Kamau Thugge.
On May 6, SRC sought clarification from the Treasury on the payment, three days after the Nation published the story on an issue that has placed lawmakers and the pay agency on a collision course.
According to the letter, the Treasury released Sh608,395,160 to Parliament.
Out of the amount, some Sh510,056,451 was credited to the PSC bank account while Sh98,338,709 was sent to the National Assembly bank account towards the payment of the allowance to the 416 MPs.
While SRC is adamant that the approval was sought but declined, it is not clear if Attorney-General Paul Kihara gave his legal opinion.
Similarly, there is no evidence that the PSC sought opinion from the State law office.
It is unlikely that the AG would have authored the opinion and failed to submit it to the SRC.
On friday Mr Kariuki told the Saturday Nation through an aide that the question of whether he offered legal opinion or not falls within the realm of advocate-client confidentiality.
He thus told this paper to pose the question to the PSC instead.
“The AG gives advice to many organs of the State daily. It is therefore not proper for him to stand up and tell the world the kind of advice he offers to his clients. This is confidential,” the aide, who didn’t want to be named, said
SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich said she could not speak for the office of the Attorney-General.
“Whether it exists, I don’t know. I can’t speak for the AG but I haven’t seen the opinion nor was our approval sought before the money was paid,” she said.
The SRC is charged with the mandate to set and regularly review remuneration and benefits for State officers.
It also has the responsibility of advising national and county governments on the salaries and benefits for other public officers.
MPs are State officers, meaning it is the SRC which should set their remuneration.
Ms Mengich dismissed National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s complaints that MPs are being discriminated against.
The SRC has termed the house allowance to MPs irregular, adding that it is assembling a legal team to challenge the decision in court with a view to recovering the money.
The decision by the MPs to award themselves a monthly house allowance of Sh250,000, backdated to October 2018 has sparked outrage among Kenyans.
MPs have laughed off the threat to recover the funds.
A senior Jubilee MP told the Saturday Nation that SRC “has picked the worst possible time to fight Parliament” as the country is in the middle of the budget making circle.