What you need to know:
- If passed by Kenyan voters in the planned referendum, the effects of increased financing of the MPs will start biting in the 2022/23 financial year.
- But to get to the referendum, the BBI Bill will first have to clear the hurdles placed on its path by petitioners in the nine cases filed in court.
It will cost the taxpayer at least Sh30billion a year to maintain 547 MPs in the National Assembly and Senate if Kenyans approve the proposed Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 at the referendum planned for later this year.
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 Bill.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) sponsored Bill seeks to amend the 2010 constitution. If passed by Kenyan voters in the planned referendum, the effects of increased financing of the MPs will start biting in the 2022/23 financial year.
It is not clear whether the economy will have picked by then as the government faces challenges raising revenue to finance its operations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means that the cost of maintaining the MPs will increase to Sh30.4 billion in the 2023/24 financial year and Sh32 billion by 2024/25 while putting the average annual inflation rate at 5 percent.
“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 implication on the Bill sought by the committee.
But to get to the referendum, the BBI Bill will first have to clear the hurdles placed on its path by petitioners in the nine cases filed in court.
Case challenging BBI process
The cases are challenging the constitutionality of the process to amend the 2010 constitution.
Already, 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.
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 cost.
Out of the Sh4.4 million an MP gets, Sh1.2 million is in direct earnings, Sh2.1 million in indirect earnings, which include domestic and foreign travel as well as constituency office maintenance.
About Sh1.1 million is in indirect cost- consumptions of utilities and maintenance of offices. Senators enjoy similar benefits.
The cost of maintaining the MPs does not, however, include the Sh31.73 billion required to run the two Houses and a car grant of Sh2.77 billion for the MPs both in the National Assembly and Senate.
The 453 MPs in the National Assembly will draw a Sh2.3 billion car grant and Sh470 million for the 94 Senators.
Currently, it costs Sh18.5 billion to run the National Assembly annually.
BBI sponsored Bill
The cost will however rise to Sh26.3 billion by 2022/23 financial year, if the Bill gets approval at the referendum. This means that the House will require an additional Sh7.8 billion to finance its operations.
The financing of the operations of the National Assembly will nevertheless reduce marginally to Sh25.2 billion by 2023/24 financial year and Sh26.5 billion in 2024/25.
The Senate costs the taxpayers Sh3.6 billion annually with the figure set to increase to Sh5.4 billion in the 2022/23 financial year, which is a Sh1.83 billion increase.
The figure is set to reduce slightly to Sh5.2 in 2023/24 before increasing to Sh5.5 billion by the year 2024/25.
The BBI sponsored Bill was introduced concurrently to the two Houses of Parliament on February 18, 2021, after being approved by majority of the 47 County Assemblies.
The two Speakers, Justin Muturi (National Assembly), and Ken Lusaka (Senate) would later committee the Bill to the joint sitting of the two committees.
The Bill 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 the 12 special nomination slots.
In the Senate it proposes to increase 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 the current 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 special nomination slots in favour of two members- a man and a woman representing the youth.
It also provides special seats for top up to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of parliament is of the same gender.
Based on the trend of election of women members of Parliament in the National Assembly, the Bill projects that 33 women MPs will be elected.
To ensure that not more than two-third of the membership of the National Assembly is of the same gender, 87 women MPs “may be” nominated.
The establishment of the Office of the Prime Minister and two deputies will further cost the taxpayer about Sh4 billion.
In estimating the expenditure costs of the Prime Minister’s office, 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 that it will require a budget similar to that of the Deputy President.
The budgetary allocation to the office of the Deputy President 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 percent of the Prime Minister’s budget.
This translates to about Sh2.4 billion for the Deputy Prime Ministers.
The BBI Bill further proposes to create a new Article 107 (A) to the constitution to provide for the establishment of the office of the leader of official opposition in the National Assembly.
The function performed by the leader of the official opposition shall therefore be similar to that of the current leader of minority in the House.
This means that the expenditure needs of the office will be catered for in the current budgetary allocation to the office of the leader of minority.