PAY ROW

Uhuru slams brakes on MPs bid to clip SRC powers

MPs wanted allowances for activities outside the precincts of Parliament.

In Summary
  • MPs had earlier expressed reservations on the manner their mortgage is designed citing double standards on the part of how CSs and PSs are treated.
  • They accused SRC of dining with the Executive, hence granting officers better terms 
President Uhuru Kenyatta signs bills at State House. /FILE
President Uhuru Kenyatta signs bills at State House. /FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called out on MPs and tamed their bid to clip powers of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

The National Assembly passed a bill that if enacted, would have barred the SRC from determining salaries for members, giving that power to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

The proposal was part of the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, which the president vetoed saying any pay decisions must be approved by SRC.

 

MPs sought to give themselves powers to authorize payment of allowances to members and staff for activities outside the precincts of Parliament.

They also bid to determine how much they should earn in domestic and foreign travel allowances among many others – terms they further sought to review every three years.

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

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

MPs have bidding for a Sh250,000 monthly house allowance, an issue that escalated tension between PSC and SRC, hence the amendments to the Service Bill.

But in a memorandum dated August 16, Uhuru sought to settle the tug of war saying the Bill would only pass with amendments that factor in SRC nod in any salary review.

The President has proposed that MPs insert the phrase “on the advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission” in the clause where PSC was to get express powers to determine pay.

 

“The clause does not take into account or make reference to the role of SRC under Article 230 (4) of the Constitution with respect to settling and regularly reviewing the remuneration and benefits of all State officers, and advising the national government on benefits of all public officers,” the memorandum reads.

The Service Bill was introduced in the assembly by Leader of Majority Aden Duale in February last year but has been pending before a committee.

It was read for the first time on March 13, 2018, and was subjected to Third Reading later in November after which it was to be reviewed by the Justice and Legal Affairs committee.

Parliament now has the daunting task of raising a two-thirds majority to override Uhuru’s reservations, a matter that has proven tough if the quorum hitches on the thirds gender rule is worth noting.

SRC and PSC are in a court tussle in the salaries team’s bid to recover Sh700 million that was already paid to members in house allowances.

The feeling in Parliament in the wake of Uhuru’s memo is that the commission is meddling in a mandate which belongs to the PSC according to the law.

Their argument is that Section 31 of the Employment Act stipulates that it is the duty of an employer to give an employee its dues.

Another basis is Article 127 which vests on PSC, as its primary role, the function of providing facilities and catering for the welfare of parliament.

“The President is being populist. State officers deserve equal treatment, for which MPs are part,” a member who sought anonymity in fear of being vilified told the Star.


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