Sh1.5 billion pension set up for Raila, ex-VPs
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By MICHAEL OMONDI
The Treasury has set aside Sh1.5 billion to cater for the retirement benefits of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and retired Vice-Presidents, including Kalonzo Musyoka, underlining the burden of keeping former State officials comfortable in retirement.
Budget documents tabled in Parliament show an allocation of Sh1.5 billion as gratuity for retired presidents under an expenditure line that is being introduced for the first time.
The allocation comes weeks after Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo made a formal application for the lavish pension offered retired vice presidents.
A source at the Treasury said the budget line labelled “Retired Presidents” will cater for retired State offices whose pension is captured under the Deputy President and Designated State Officers Act, including National Assembly Speakers, Chief Justices and their deputies as well vice presidents.
“We created the new budget line to accommodate retired offices under the Deputy President Retirement law,” said a top Treasury official who sought anonymity, citing sensitivity of the matter.
“We have many persons captured by the law seeking the benefits and they are hefty, hence the need for a new budget line.”
The allocation will increase to Sh2 billion in the year starting July 2020, which is higher than the Sh1 billion allocated for building affordable homes, Sh1.5 billion for constituency transformers, Sh400 million for regional cancer centres and Sh300 million for loans for the youth through the Uwezo Fund.
The State eased restrictions on the Opposition leaders’ access to retirement benefits following the peace deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival, Mr Odinga, popularly referred to as “the handshake” of March 2018.
Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka will be entitled to a lump sum pay of Sh8.64 million, Sh720,000 in monthly lifelong pension and Sh108,000 in fuel allowance every month besides other lavish benefits like fully furnished offices as well as 17 workers including chefs, accountants, secretaries and personal assistants at taxpayers’ expense.
The two leaders currently earn a monthly pension of nearly Sh200,000 for the multiple terms they served as MPs for Lang’ata and Mwingi North constituencies respectively.
The MPs’ pension will be stopped once the two start accessing the lavish benefits.
President Kenyatta had in 2015 declined to assent to a bill that would have given Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga the hefty perks, citing their participation in active politics but softened his stance following the handshake.
The lavish retirement benefits will be extended to Musalia Madavadi, who served briefly as Kenya’s Vice President in 2002.
Moody Awori, who was Vice President between 2003 and 2008, is already enjoying the benefits and taxpayers used Sh149.2 million in the six months to June for his staff and office—reflecting the taxpayer burden of the retirement perks.
According to the Act, the former Prime Minister will receive a monthly pension equivalent to 80 per cent of his last salary, a lump sum of equivalent to 12 months of his last pay, security, medical insurance and a diplomatic passport for himself and spouse.
He will also receive two saloon cars and a four-wheel drive vehicle, both of which will come with three drivers and a fuel allowance equivalent to 15 per cent of the monthly pay of the serving Deputy President.
The vehicles will be replaced after every four years. Taxpayers will cater for maintenance of the vehicles at dealerships.
Among the other perks that Mr Odinga will enjoy are; one personal assistant, one secretary, one accountant, two housekeepers, two senior support staff, two gardeners, armed security and two cleaners.
Mr Musyoka and Mr Mudavadi will also enjoy similar benefits.
Retired Parliament Speakers — Kenneth Marende, Francis ole Kaparo and Ekwee Ethuro — are also enjoying comparable benefits, but with a smaller staff of eight aides and two armed guards.
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