Kenya National Assembly in session.

| File

It will cost you Sh30bn a year to maintain MPs

It will cost the taxpayer at least Sh30 billion a year to maintain 547 MPs in the National Assembly and the Senate if Kenyans approve the proposed Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 in a referendum.

The effects of the Bill sponsored by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will start biting in the 2022/23 financial year.

Legislators’ budget will increase steadily to Sh32 billion by 2024/25, while putting the average annual inflation rate at five per cent.

The National Assembly’s allocation will rise from Sh18.5 billion to Sh26.3 billion by the 2022/23 financial year, then reduce marginally to Sh25.2 billion by 2023/24 financial year and Sh26.5 billion in 2024/25.

The Senate costs the taxpayer Sh3.6 billion annually with the figure set to increase to Sh5.4 billion in 2022/23. It will slightly reduce to Sh5.2 billion in 2023/24 before increasing to Sh5.5 billion by 2024/25.

Cases against BBI

Before the referendum, the BBI promoters will, however, have to deal with the nine cases filed in court challenging the constitutionality of the process.

The hearing of the eight cases filed in Nairobi and later consolidated into one has been concluded with judgment to be issued on notice. The hearing of the case filed in Kakamega is however, yet to start.

The revelations are contained in the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) document presented to the joint sitting of the Justice and Legal Affairs committee of the National Assembly and the Senate’s Justice and Human Rights committee considering the BBI Bill.

“Some of the proposed amendments with direct financial costs are those relating to the increasing the number of constituencies for the election of membership of Parliament,” the PBO document reads.

PBO, which advises Parliament and its committees on fiscal matters, had its expert cost estimate on the Bill sought by the committee. 

Based on the 2013 gazette notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), each of the 416 members in the two Houses gets paid Sh4.4 million in monthly salaries, allowances and indirect costs.

Sh1.2 million is in direct earnings, Sh2.1 million in indirect income, which include domestic and foreign travel as well as constituency office maintenance. About Sh1.1 million is in indirect cost – utilities and office maintenance.

The parliamentary budget does not, however, include the Sh31.73 billion required to run the two chambers and a car grant of Sh2.77 billion for the MPs.

The 453 MPs in the National Assembly will draw a Sh2.3 billion car grant and Sh470 million for the 94 senators.

The BBI Bill was introduced to the two Houses on February 18 last year after being approved by a majority of the 47 county assemblies.

Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ken Lusaka (Senate) would later hand over the Bill to the joint sitting of the two committees.

It proposes to increase MPs in the National Assembly to 453 from the current 349 – 290 elected in the single member constituencies, 47 County Woman Representatives and 12 special nomination slots.

It seeks to increase senators from the current 67 to 94, being a man and a woman elected in each of the 47 counties in compliance with the two-thirds gender rule.

To attain the numbers in the National Assembly, the Bill proposes to amend Article 89 (1) of the Constitution to increase the number of constituencies from 290 to 360.

This means increasing members from the single member constituencies in the National Assembly to 360. In scrapping the 47 Woman Count Representatives, it proposes to amend Article 97 (1) (b) of the Constitution.

It proposes four members – being two women and two men representing persons with disabilities. It further seeks to delete Article 97 (1) (c) on the 12 nomination slots in favour of two members – a man and a woman representing the youth.

Based on the trend of election of women members of Parliament in the National Assembly, the Bill projects that 33 MPs will be elected.

To ensure not more than two-thirds of MPs are of the same gender, 87 women MPs “may be” nominated.

The establishment of the Office of the Prime Minister and two deputies will cost the taxpayer about Sh4 billion. The PBO document assumes that the new post shall be similar to that of the current Deputy President in the executive arm of government and will require a similar.

The allocation to DP’s for the 2020/21 financial year is Sh1.5 billion. The PBO document further assumes that each of the two Deputy Prime Ministers will take an equivalent of 80 per cent of the PM’s budget.

The Bill also proposes to create the Office of the Leader of Official Opposition in the National Assembly, whose functions shall be similar to those of the Minority Leader.