A month after Members of Parliament awarded themselves hefty pensions, the Cabinet has also started a discussion that will see ministers enjoy a handsome send-off package.
In a sub-committee routine meeting chaired by Interior and Coordination Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i a fortnight ago, the CSs noted that unlike the Judiciary, Parliament and part of the Executive, they were not beneficiaries of pension.
The CSs picked Cabinet Secretary for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Prof Margaret Kobia and her Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala to champion the move.
“We are the only ones who do not have any send-off package. We agreed that our two colleagues can look at the modalities, including legislation, to the effect if need be and get back to us in due time,” said a CS who did not want to be named.
He said there were fears among his colleagues that some, if not most of them, may not be taken up in the next government and therefore, there is need to have a package or a pension that will see them get money after serving the government.
“We have former ministers living like paupers after giving their best to the government. We believe that the proposal will be received with fairness,” said the CS.
Early this month, the MPs passed the Parliamentary Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which awarded former lawmakers a gratuity and a monthly pension that will see legislators who served between 1984 and 2001 get a pension windfall.
The changes will see the monthly pension of former MPs rise from Sh2,000 to as high as Sh125,000, with payment backdated to July 2010. The amendments brought by National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi were in line with the recommendations by the Akilano Akiwumi Task Force which, in 2009, recommended a monthly pension.
The Akiwumi report recommended enhanced pension, through improved terms and conditions of service for the MPs and parliamentary staff, and Sh100,000 monthly pension for former lawmakers who served from 1984.
This means that all those who served a single term during the period will be paid pension backdated to July 1, 2010, in line with recommendations of the task force.
The Parliamentary Pensions Act, which came into force in 2002, stipulates that only MPs who serve two terms or more, are entitled to a monthly pension of at least Sh125,000 for life. Another report by the 2002 Cockar Task Force recommended that retired leaders who served from 1963 to 1983 be given Sh1 million ex-gratia.
The MPs are also expected to approve amendments the Parliamentary Pensions Act, 2002, to remove a requirement that only those who served two terms during the 17 years be entitled to pension for life.
Kenya has had over 190 ministers since independence under presidents Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Mzee Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta and it is not clear if the Cabinet will be pushing to have all of them benefit.
Kobia and Balala’s team will look into the possibility of having either the CSs picked based on the 2010 Constitution or have the beneficiaries considered from 1963 when Kenya got independence.
Currently, a CS earns Sh924,000 per month as basic pay based on the 2017 Kenya Gazette Notice by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). While the president, his deputy and governors are entitled to 31 per cent of their basic pay upon retirement, the CSs leave with their last salaries.
Former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua said ministers were not paid anything upon leaving office. “I know of former ministers who are living a pathetic life. This is unfortunate,” Karua said.
She said she was receiving her pension as a former MP for Gichugu for 20 years and had she been eligible for gratuity as a minister, she would have been benefiting but she gets nothing after six years in the Cabinet.
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