Authors: MOSES NJAGIH AND WILFRED AYAGA
AfricaPress-Kenya: MPs yesterday failed in their second bid to force through a Sh100,000 a month pension for former colleagues.
They could not to raise the two-thirds majority required to overturn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s memorandum rejecting the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that aimed to enhance pensions for former MPs.
This also hits current MPs who hope to get a soft landing when they leave office.
The House could not raise the numbers required to alter the president’s reservations on the proposed law, despite MPs being lobbied to turn up in their numbers.
The legislators had vowed fight the president’s decision in what was shaping up to be a major duel between the Executive and Parliament.
The National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee had urged MPs to ignore the president’s memorandum rejecting the law.
The committee, chaired by Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga, had asked MPs to stand with its recommendations that the about 140 former lawmakers, who served between 1984 and 2001, get an enhanced monthly pension.
“The committee, having considered the president’s reservations to the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, recommends that the House agrees with its decision to reject the president’s memorandum and his recommendation to delete Clause 2 of the Bill,” the committee had said in its report tabled in the House yesterday.
The House, however, faced a Herculean task of marshalling the numbers required to overturn the president’s memorandum as such a move would require the support of at least two-thirds of members.
Lobbying intensified as some legislators said they would make sure they realise the required numbers since they also stand to gain once they leave the House.
Uhuru declined to assent to the Bill citing, among other things, its huge financial implications and the spiral effect the award will have on Kenya when it is grappling with a huge public wage bill.
Uhuru argued putting the former MPs on such a monthly pension, as the Bill has proposed, would see the wage bill go up by Sh444 million. Such a move, he noted, would trigger similar demands from other retired public officers.
He said the ripple effects of such a law would be unaffordable and unsustainable.
“The proposed pension payment will result in an annual cost implication of about Sh444 million. Added to this will be the almost certain demand for similar upward review of pension benefits by other retired State and public officers, which is within their right to demand,” said Uhuru in his memorandum sent to Speaker Justin Muturi.
The president argued that members’ pensions, under the Pension Act, are calculated according to the contributions paid to the scheme during their parliamentary terms. He said the Bill failed to use this contribution to calculate the recommended benefits.
Uhuru also accused the House of overlooking the mandate of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to come up with the blanket figure of Sh100,000 as a standard pension per month.
“The mandate of the commission comprises, among other things, setting and review of remuneration and benefits for all State officers, who include MPs,” he said.