Members of Parliament will pocket a whopping Sh160 million each in a record send-off package approved by the treasury last year. The MPs gave themselves a 272 per cent raise in gratuity, raising the lump sum paid to each member at the end of every term from Sh43 million.
The Citizen has learnt that some of the MPs have already taken more than half that amount in loans as they await the end of their term in 2014. The MPs have in the recent past come under public criticism for developing an appetite for more pay and allowances.
Their new earnings will rival only those of their Kenyan counterparts who, in 2012, secretly voted to take home more than Sh164 million (Ksh9.3 million) in similar gratuity payments.
The move by the Kenyan MPs came after a bitter public campaign saw former President Mwai Kibaki veto a proposal for new salaries that would have made them the highest paid in the world. Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is currently $40.70 billion while Tanzania’s GDP is $30 billion.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Saada Mkuya confirmed to The Citizen that the gratuity was indeed raised last year. She also admitted that some legislators had collected their share from designated banks.
Ms Mkuya would not give more details, saying only that treasury had set aside the cash. “I know this matter was approved by the Prime Minister’s office during my predecessor’s time as I was dealing with policy issues,” Ms Mkuya said.
The amount has more than tripled from 2010, when the pay-off was first raised to Sh43 million. By the time Parliament is dissolved ahead of the 2015 General Election, each of the 357 MPs will have collected Sh117 million more than those who served in the last Parliament.
This means that the government–now struggling to raise revenue and mired in huge debts–will have to tax the public more to meet the huge send-off bill for MPs, totalling some Sh56 billion. Along with the gratuity, the MPs earn Sh12 million in monthly salaries. They also benefit from hefty sitting and other allowances.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Dr Thomas Kashililah, said his office was not involved in determining the gratuity payments. “Bunge is just responsible for the MPs salaries and not gratuity,” said Dr Kashililah. “That falls under the treasury.”
Several MPs agreed that they are now on a much improved gratuity arrangement, allowing some of them to get loans from two commercial banks approved by the treasury.
An opposition MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a member was allowed to draw up to Sh80 million of the Sh160 million from the banks. But she added that she knew of colleagues who had borrowed up to Sh150 million. “I have also borrowed Sh40 million for some projects,” she added. “I know some of my colleagues who have also collected theirs.”
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was not available for comment.