Members of the county assemblies now have a reason to smile after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) approved car grants for them, days after the ward representatives made the demand to President Uhuru Kenyatta in exchange for their support of the BBI Bill now in the regional Houses.
In a letter to Council of Governors chairman Martin Wambora, SRC Chairperson Lyn Mengich approved the Sh4.5 billion car grant for MCAs and county assembly speakers.
President Kenyatta had a few days ago acceded to the MCAs request for a Sh2 million grant for each of the 2,237 ward reps, which will punch a Sh4.5 billion hole in the government coffers.
Though the ward reps have been demanding the car grant since the advent of devolution in 2014, President Kenyatta’s apparent willingness to open the public purse at a time he was popularising the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has caught the attention of many Kenyans.
In the communication to Governor Wambora on Tuesday, Ms Mengich said the benefit is only applicable to current speakers and MCAs.
Speakers were entitled to a Sh4 million grant which, like the MCAs, will now be converted to a car grant.
“Taking into account the principle of equity and fairness, affordability and fiscal sustainability, SRC hereby reviews the car loan benefit as set earlier to a transport facilitation benefit in the form of a grant,” Ms Mengich said in her letter to Mr Wambora.
MCAs and the governors lobby had argued that it was unfair for the members of the Senate and the National Assembly to have a car grant while the ward reps were being asked to take a loan.
In an interview last week, ODM leader Raila Odinga defended the MCAs, saying they should get the car grant even as he dismissed concerns that the timing of the President’s acceptance to the demand was suspect.
“I do not think any MCA will feel obligated to pass the BBI merely because the government gave them a car grant. I think the MCAs are going to vote for or against the document on the basis of their conviction,” Mr Odinga told Spice FM.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, who has joined a lobby group that is campaigning against the BBI, said the car grant was nothing but bribery.
“The car grant for MCAs is nothing short of a quid pro quo by the President. It is bribery in return for them to close their eyes on contentious issues and pass an unnecessary document. The infamous BBI must no longer be made the preserve of a few in state-driven meetings,” Ms Karua said last week.