BURDENING TAXPAYER

Uproar over Sh4.5 billion car grant for MCAs

Leaders and Kenyans say MCAs have been bribed to pass the BBI bill.

In Summary

• On Tuesday, SRC chairperson Lynn Mengich, in a memo to Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora, gave the counties the greenlight to process the the money.

• Former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said the SRC is now under state capture and is being used to facilitate the passage of the bill in the 47 assemblies.

SRC chairperson Lyn Cherop Mengich during a press conference on MPs' house allowances on May 15, 2019.
SRC chairperson Lyn Cherop Mengich during a press conference on MPs' house allowances on May 15, 2019.
Image: ENOS TECHE

Public outcry has greeted the move by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to approve car grants for MCAs.

On Tuesday, SRC chairperson Lynn Mengich, in a memo to Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora, gave counties the greenlight to process Sh4.5 billion for the MCAs and assembly speakers.

But opinion leaders criticised the SRC for giving in to President Uhuru Kenyatta's order to approve the cash as part of the goodies lined up for MCAs to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The move will see each of the 2,237 MCAs get Sh2 million. It is seen as a slap in the face of taxpayers.

Former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow said the SRC is now under state capture and is being used to facilitate the passage of the bill in the 47 assemblies.

Kerrow, who served as Finance committee chair in the Senate, said granting MCAs the money while doctors, nurses and teachers have unsuccessfully been asking for allowances is immoral.

“This amounts to duplicity. Just the other day SRC rejected allowances for our health workers; now SRC has gone ahead to advise governors to give MCAs car grants totalling Sh4.5 billion. What a shame for an independent constitutional commission that now plays second fiddle to the Executive,” he said.

During his meeting with MCAs from the Mt Kenya region at Sagana State Lodge slightly more than a week ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta acceded to their eight-year fight for car grants.

The MCAs have always argued that they should be treated like senators and members of the National Assembly who enjoy Sh7 million car grants.

But Jared Ngige, a degree holder selling vegetables in Nairobi, termed it disheartening that Uhuru and his handshake partner Raila Odinga will stop at nothing to ensure the bill passes.

He said the youth are jobless and those who received funding from the Higher Education Loans Board are under pressure to repay and some have even been blacklisted.

“There is a problem. Uhuru and Raila are now pushing us to the wall with this thing called BBI. What is in it that cannot wait? Fourteen million Kenyans, mostly young people, have been blocked from borrowing a loan,” he told the Star.

“As they bribe MCAs to pass the BBI, they should know we are waiting for them to defeat their evil plans. When are they writing off Helb and the money farmers owe to several institutions? This cannot go on for long."

He called on Kenyans to take note of MCAs who will support the bill “then deal with them in 2022”.

Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi said issuing of the grant amounts to bribery, adding that Kenyans now have more reasons to reject the BBI.

This is another reason the BBI should and must fail for Kenya to recover and succeed. The government has money to entice and bribe MCAs to vote for retrogressive laws but has none to pay policemen, soldiers, teachers, doctors, nurses, clinical workers, etc.,” he twitted.

Dennis Nthumbi, a pastor-cum-political-analyst, said what the SRC did is tantamount to “a blatant daylight assault on our electoral laws”.

He said Kenyans should not allow the commission, the President and the former Prime Minister collude to “trample on our conscience and the rule of law”.

He said even if Uhuru and Raila will bulldoze their way in the assemblies, “Wanjiku will have the ultimate say as the only standing defender of her Constitution.

“Which father would prioritise to borrow money and buy a car when the family members are in and out of ICU? Our country is in ICU economically. The long and short of this explicit action is that it amounts to voter bribery,” he said.

"Why not turn the Sh4.5 billion into an emergency ward fund to cushion small businesses or to provide PPE and allowances for frontline health workers or more so direct cash grants for struggling homesteads so that we may increase domestic gross happiness to families sinking into further poverty?”

Chibanzi Mwachonda, the acting secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, blasted the SRC for applying double standards.

Doctors and nurses have been on strike seeking to be paid allowances, but the commission and the state stifled their quest.

“SRC should be renamed Selective Remuneration Commission and stripped of the mandate to advise on and determine salaries and benefits for public sector workers; clearly serving the interests of the elite,” he twitted on Tuesday.

Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua also condemned the SRC, saying it was a clear indication that such an independent commission has become an appendage of the Executive.

 

Edited by F'Orieny