MPs splurge despite calls for austerity

MPs at PrideInn Hotel in Mombasa on January 23, 2023.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

MPs are splurging millions of shillings in seminars at top hotels and overseas trips, casting doubt on their commitment to the government’s austerity measures.

And while members of the 349-strong National Assembly flew to Mombasa and are booked at a beach hotel for a week at taxpayers’ expense, they have boycotted the induction workshop that took them there to protest delays in the disbursement of constituency development funds, which means they are wasting the money.

The MPs, whose first order of business after election in last August’s elections was to push for a pay rise in disregard of caps imposed by the salaries regulator, are enjoying luxuries even as taxpayers are asked to tighten their belts.

Recently, a team of the National Assembly Speaker’s panel jetted back into the country from a benchmarking that took them to the US Congress.

All members of the National Assembly are at PrideInn Paradise Beach Resort, Convention and Spa in Mombasa for their induction to House committees. Their Senate counterparts got a sweeter deal with at least 46 of them going to Dar es Salam for a seminar and the other 21, the chairpersons of the various committees, going to Sarova Whitesands for another workshop.

A copy of the programme for the seven-day seminar at Pride Inn indicates that the leaders arrived in Mombasa on Sunday, January 22. They will be there until Saturday, January 28.

When traveling locally, MPs are entitled to fly economy class, with the current rates for a return trip to Mombasa with Kenya Airways at Sh15, 215.

With at least 370 lawmakers flying to the coastal city, the estimated air travel cost is Sh5.63 million. The figure will be much higher given the leaders often travel with their personal assistants and other aides.

The MPs are entitled to per diem allowances, which come to about Sh47.13 million for a week.

A search of PrideInn hotel website showed that the nightly rates are Sh24,096 with breakfast. This figure, multiplied by the 349 MPs, adds up to Sh58.87 million for the week. However, given the bulk bookings Parliament may have secured some concessions.

For the 21 senators at the coast, going with the current rate at Sarova Whitesands, it might cost Sh2.98million for the seven days .

Whereas the Nation could not ascertain the hotel booked for the Senators in Tanzania, the cost is likely to be equally pricey. The travelling cost could be as much as Sh2.79million.

These ongoing seminars come barely three months after Members of the National Assembly had a week-long induction at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi even as their Senate counterparts had a five-day retreat in Naivasha.

Just last November, the National Treasury released a schedule showing the entire budget on foreign travel, training and other non-essential items had been cut in President William Ruto’s Sh300 billion austerity plan in a bid to free up more cash for critical projects.

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