Changes that await the new MPs in Parliament

Parliament buildings in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

 Various changes await the newly-elected MPs in the National Assembly.

The MPs, who will make the 13th parliament, will miss out on the Sh5,000 plenary allowance that their predecessors enjoyed.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) scrapped the Sh5, 000 sitting allowance for the legislators in May in changes that take effect with the new parliament.

The review of the standing orders by the outgoing MPs also came up with various changes that would be adopted by the 13th Parliament. These include introduction of 10 new committees, a move that will see the number of committees rise to 43 from 33.

The new committees include diaspora, public debt and privatisation, decentralised funds, public petitions, housing, urban and planning, regional development  and social welfare.

The Public Investments Committee (PIC) that was chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir in the 12th Parliament will also be divided into three to enable it to cover more audit reports on effective discharge of public funds of various parastatals under their mandate.

According to the new House rules, there will be a PIC committee on governance, commercial affairs and energy and another for social services and administration.

PIC is one of the watchdog committees in the National Assembly that examines reports of the Auditor-General. The committee examines audited accounts of more than 250 state corporations.

In its exit report, the PIC noted that due to the huge volume of accounts to be examined, it faced the challenge of prioritising state corporations.

Independent MPs also have good news as they would have a members’ caucus that will have a recognised leader in the House to champion for their agenda.

The leader of independent MPs will also sit in the coveted House Business Committee (HBC), which determines agenda to be transacted on the floor. In addition, the leader of independent MPs will also sit in the committee on selection that has the mandate to select members to serve in committees. The move would allow the caucus to safeguard the interest of their members.

The leader of independent MPs would have a chance to ask the Speaker for facilitation so that he can have an established office with staff employed by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), just like the Leaders of majority, minority and the whips.

In the changes, those who will make it through other fringe parties that are not affiliated to any coalition will also have the same opportunity in the placement of committees as a quarter of all committees will be reserved for them together with their independent counterparts.

“After the quarter for independent and small parties has been hived off, the remaining positions will be shared by the majority and the minority based on their strength,” said a parliamentary officer well-versed with the operations.

In the current Parliament, independent MPs and those from smaller parties had to align themselves with the popular parties to get placement in committees. With the exit of Mr Justin Muturi, the 13th Parliament will also have a new Speaker.

In the power-sharing arrangement in Kenya Kwanza coalition, Ford Kenya led by Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula has been promised the position of the speaker of the National Assembly. The lawmakers will also have new faces in the PSC, which is their employer as the terms of the current commissioners ended with the life of the last parliament .

The 13th Parliament will also have an opportunity to decide whether it needs to have a parallel debating chamber.

The incoming members of the National Assembly, according to Article 126 (2) of the constitution, must be sworn-in 30 days after the General Election.

“Whenever a new House is elected, the President by notice in the gazette, shall appoint the place and date for the first sitting of the new house which shall be more than 30 days after elections,”  reads Article 126