National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale addressing reporters at his Nairobi office
Parliament will next week crack down on scores of lazy MPs who have been pocketing millions of shillings in weekly allowances without attending committee meetings. On Thursday, the leadership of the National Assembly said it will kick such MPs out of the committees in a move aimed at ensuring solemnity in the discharge of parliamentary affairs so that taxpayers can get value for money.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale revealed on the floor of the House that he will table a report on the status of committee attendance next week to expose the lazy MPs. The report, prepared by the House’s Directorate of Committee Services, will recommend changes to standing orders to ensure that lawmakers who fail to attend three consecutive meetings without a valid explanation or written permission from the Speaker are kicked out.
Sources in Parliament told the Saturday Nation that more than 150 MPs, among them committee chairpersons, could be affected by the purge after collecting allowances for meetings they did not attend. A committee chairman is paid Sh15,000 for chairing a meeting. A vice-chairperson pockets Sh12,000 while an ordinary member takes home Sh8,000 for every sitting attended.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission Kenya Gazette notice of July 7, 2017 on remuneration and benefits for MPs capped committee sittings at 16 per month or four per week.
While Speaker Justin Muturi maintained that having the MPs repay the illegally pocketed allowances may be difficult, he warned that such MPs will be de-whipped. “Those who do not attend the meetings have no business being members of those committees. They should be removed,” Mr Muturi said. The most affected are the 16 departmental committees and four financial audit and monetary-related panels.
Although MPs are allowed to belong to a maximum of two committees, there are some who belong to as many as three. On a normal day, a member can go to all the three committees and sign the attendance sheets before retreating to their executive lounges in Parliament to take tea or just laze around while surfing the internet.
The attendance sheet is what is used to compute what an MP earns in monthly committee allowances, paid at the end of the month with their salaries. During the Thursday session, Samburu North MP Alois Lentoimaga protested the plan to de-whip MPs for not attending committee sessions, saying many were placed on committees they don’t want, an argument Mr Muturi rejected.
The Speaker noted that MPs appear to take special interest in some lucrative committees, including Energy, Transport, Security and the two watchdog committees — Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Investments Committee (PIC) — for monetary gain.“I can remember those who wanted to join the Security committee were 50, Transport 100 and Energy was overflowing with requests,” Mr Muturi said.
Mr Duale said publishing the list of truant MPs will ensure that he does not have to read the same statements sought by members time and again.
Source: Daily Nation.