ILLEGAL PAYMENT

Court crushes MPs' bid to get house allowances

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission urges court to order recovery of the allowances already paid

In Summary

• Commission says that the decision by PSC has resulted in the loss of public funds in excess of Sh99.5 million and an annual cost of Sh1.1 billion

• It says the decision will set a dangerous precedent in the management of public funds if it is allowed to stand

 

SRC boss Lyn Mengich.
SRC boss Lyn Mengich.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

The High Court on Friday suspended any further payment of house allowances to MPs until the case filed by the SRC is heard and determined.

Justice John Mativo further allowed SRC to serve commissioners of PSC through the Clerk of the Senate who is the accounting officer of PSC.

The case will be mentioned on June 12 for inter partes hearing.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission moved to court to recover more than Sh700 million illegally paid to MPs as house allowances.

In an urgent application, the SRC wants the High Court to order that the cash be recovered from the legislators' salaries.

“An order be issued directing the clerks of the Senate and the National Assembly to recover from the salaries allowances to be paid to MPs and any house allowance paid to them that is outside the constitutional structure of remuneration of benefits of state officers in Parliament set and communicated by the SRC,” the application reads.

The commission also wants the court to stop further payments.

Through lawyer Peter Wanyama, it has sued the Parliamentary Service Commission, clerks of both houses and members of the PSC, including Speaker Justin Muturi.

PSC commissioners are Naomi Shaban, Beth Mugo, Adan Keynan, Benson Momanyi, Gerge Khaniri, Aisha Jumwa, Aaron Cheruiyot, Lorna Mumelo and Jeremiah Nyegenye.

Wanyama says that in mid-last month, the SRC learned that a decision of the Parliamentary Service Commission made on April 24 to pay lawmakers a house allowance was against the law set by the SRC and a violation of the Constitution.

“The house allowance paid to MPs by the PSC is not contained in the constitutional structure of Remuneration and Benefits of State Officers in Parliament set, gazetted and communicated by the SRC,” the petition reads.

The SRC says the decision has resulted in the loss of public funds in excess of Sh99.5 million and the annual cost being Sh1.1 billion.

It says the decision will set a dangerous precedent in the management of public funds if it is allowed to stand.

 

In January, the PSC wrote a memorandum to the SRC requesting for approval of a monthly house allowance of Sh250,000 for each MP. The payment was to enable MPs to rent houses within Nairobi in locations befitting their stature. 

The parliamentary agency said governors and deputy governors enjoy a housing benefit and the MPs also deserved it to stop the discrimination.

The remuneration commission declined the request. 

“MPs cannot benefit from a separate payment of house allowance because their pay is already consolidated. They benefit from numerous allowances and benefits that are paid from public coffers,” it says in court documents.

“Muturi’s explanation and justification for the payment of house allowance are largely unmerited. MPs are paid a house allowance, which is contained in their consolidated pay and there is no basis to pay them additional house allowance."