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SRC holds secret meetings with Uhuru, Ruto — MPs

PSC claims salaries agency negotiates allowances for non-deserving state officers

In Summary

• MPs deny claims they asked for a night allowance, say they are treated as a negligible arm of government

• They have been criticised for allegedly claiming 17 different allowances

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Photo/FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Photo/FILE

The Parliamentary Service Commission has sensationally claimed that their counterparts at the SRC have been secretly negotiating allowances for non-deserving state officers.

The PSC team alleged that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission has on many occasions sat with President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto for such negotiations, saying they feel short-changed in their dealings with them. 

Vice chairperson Naomi Shaban cited allowances paid to Chief Administrative Secretaries, saying the position is not recognised in the Constitution.

She further claimed that the SRC has been discussing perks for members of other commissions including the Judicial Service Commission.

Denying claims they have sought to be paid a night allowance, the lawmakers said it was unfair for the salaries body to treat Parliament as a negligible arm of government.

“We don’t understand the hatred the SRC has against us. SRC assumes MPs have not gone to school and hence don’t know what is in the budget,” Shaban said.

“They meet Uhuru and Ruto to agree on what to give members of the Executive. We know what is given to Cabinet and Principal Secretaries. The allowances are neither in the officers’ pay slips nor taxed.”

The MPs further dismissed assertions that they earn more than Sh1 million, tax-free allowances, enjoy five-star hotel facilities, as well as get extra cash from mileage allowance claims.

They also rebuffed claims that the NG-CDF is a facility for MPs, stating that they only play an oversight role over the Fund.

SRC, in a November 2017 gazette notice, spelt that MPs be paid a maximum gross salary of Sh621,000; Sh8,000 in sitting allowance for chairs of committees and Sh5,000 in sitting allowance for members. 

Other benefits are a medical cover, retirement benefit, life insurance of three times their annual basic pay, accident cover, Sh7 million car loan and Sh20 million mortgage. 

“We have been engaging the SRC but they run away from the issue of our allowances. We know they have a sinister motive against MPs, at times sneaking gazette notices on their salaries days to the election,” Shaban said.

She was joined in the presser at Parliament Buildings by Adan Keyna (Eldas), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), George Khaniri (Vihiga), and Beth Mugo (Nominated). 

The briefing followed media reports showing that MPs were seeking 17 allowances beyond what they are entitled to as set by SRC.

MPs last Thursday debated a bill which would give PSC powers to determine their terms of service.

The Parliamentary Service Bill 2018 is due for the third reading, a move that will put PSC on the same pedestal with the SRC.

Taking a swipe at SRC chair Lyn Mengich over the pay debacle, MPs also expressed reservations on the manner their mortgage is designed citing double standards on the part of how CSs and PSs are treated.

The contention is that MPs are required to pay their loans within four years, saying the same should be applied across the board to include PSs and CSs who repay theirs beyond the contract period. 

“PSs and CSs work on a five-year contract yet are allowed to pay their loans beyond five years. MPs are expected to pay within five years. How comes we are being treated so differently? Are we a different set of state officers?” Shabaan asked.

Citing malice, the PSC members sought answers on why the salaries agency didn’t seek a judicial review of the ruling and instead went to another court where they secured the injunction on house allowances.

The lot said SRC has equally ignored the Attorney General’s advice on the contentious house allowances whose payment was stopped by the court.

“We will not allow SRC to criminalise the institution of Parliament because of their incompetence, misinterpretation of the law, and hate for MPs among other issues outside their mandate,” Keynan said.

The Eldas MP said they will defend the house allowance claim adding that the same is backed by two legal instruments – the court ruling asking the state to pay the allowance and the advisory by the Attorney General.

“Court rulings are universal; the courts in their own wisdom made a decision that house allowances should apply to all state agencies.”

“We will not allow abuse of the Constitution by agencies that want to use the supreme law to demonise MPs and make them appear as like criminals who are only hell-bent at satisfying their stomach,” Keynan said.

He added, “There is something SRC is hiding. We must ask to justify the entitlements they have accorded to other state officers. They do it at night and only come out in the open to blame MPs." 

Edited by R.Wamochie