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Ex-MPs demand Sh7m send-off package each

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By MICHAEL OMONDI
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Parliament is secretly pushing the Treasury to pay more than 300 former members of Parliament a send-off package of at least Sh7 million each in defiance of the law.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) has asked the Treasury to allocate Sh2.1 billion in the supplementary budget for approval when MPs resume from recess on February 12, according to correspondence seen by the Business Daily.

Should PSC get its way, the money will be paid to former MPs who lost their seats in last year’s General Election after serving only one term.

The latest push for yet another hefty payout comes despite the Pension Department having paid the former lawmakers about Sh5.9 million each as an exit package last year.

The one-off payment was yet another reflection of the growing burden of keeping top public servants comfortable in retirement.

Parliament is now arguing that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) was wrong in stopping the Sh2.1 billion send-off pay that PSC is now demanding.

It argues that MPs must get an exit pay equivalent to 31 percent of the total pay they earned during their term in office like other State officers such as governors.

MPs have in recent years gained notoriety for arm-twisting the Treasury and the salaries commission to line their pockets with fat pay cheques and perks, making them among the best paid in the region.

The PSC, the MPs’ employer, had earlier this month sent a letter to the Pensions Department asking Treasury to calculate the additional exit package for inclusion in the supplementary budget.

However, the law does not support the proposed pay. “It has been determined that the commission should request the National Treasury for the full amount of gratuity that would accrue to all one-term members of the 11th Parliament in the forthcoming 2nd supplementary budget,” the letter signed by PSC secretary Jeremiah Nyegenye says.

“For budgeting purposes, this is to request you to calculate the total amount of gratuity that would be due to all one-term members.”

The salaries commission has advised against the proposed send-off package.

SRC maintains that the MPs cannot be offered both a minimum gratuity of Sh7 million and a refund of their pension contributions, which includes a share of government contribution and an annual interest of 15 percent for the five years they were in office.

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Parliament, on the other hand, says the former MPs are willing to refund the government contribution once they get the Sh2.1 billion.

“Once the funds are received, the commission (PSC) would then pay to the Pensions Department the government contribution that had been paid to the said members,” Mr Nyegenye says in the letter to the Treasury.

If Parliament gets its way, the 304 MPs and senators who lost in the August 8 elections will cumulatively receive Sh2.12 billion as a golden parachute for serving a single term in Parliament.

The former MPs have been pushing for the speedy payment of the additional cash, hence the pressure their employer is piling on the Treasury.

The payment looks set to stoke anger among Kenyans who view MPs as overpaid.

Besides their fat salaries of more than Sh1 million, MPs are entitled to a Sh5 million car grant, a Sh20 million mortgage, a Sh7 million car loan, monthly airtime of Sh15,000 and Sh10 million medical insurance.

A top Treasury official has termed the proposed send-off package illegal, arguing that the Parliamentary Pensions Act does not support the golden parachute that the MPs are demanding.

“The law only recognises two payments for exiting MPs: a refund for one-term MPs and lifelong pension for those who have served for at least two-terms,” said the official who sought anonymity for fear of upsetting MPs.

Ironically, some members of the 10th Parliament, whose term ended in 2013, walked away with both the pension and the send-off package.

This set a bad precedent that Parliament is now using to pursue the secret Sh2.1 billion payoff.

This story first run in the Business Daily



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No decision yet on when schools will open, says Magoha

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By FAITH NYAMAI

Learning institutions will not reopen on June 4 as was earlier scheduled, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said.

Speaking after he received an interim report from the 10-member Education Response Committee on Covid-19 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development yesterday, Prof Magoha said schools will remain closed until the Covid-19 situation is contained.

“Parents should prepare to stay with their children longer until the health situation in the country stabilises. As at now, I cannot say when schools will resume. For me timelines and national exams are not a priority, they can even stay until January,” Prof Magoha said.

The Ministry of Health projected that the rates of Covid-19 infections are likely to hit a peak in August-September.

“The ministry takes these projections seriously, especially in view of the fact that more than 359 of our schools are currently designated as quarantine and isolation centres.”

The CS asked parents to be prepared to face the reality of an extended closure of schools.

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He said the government cannot sacrifice the health of children for the sake of an education that can wait to be offered later, when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed.

“The ministry will desist from focusing on schools’ reopening dates and instead give priority to putting in place solid mitigation measures.”

Prof Magoha downplayed some of the recommendations of the task force and said the report is too preliminary to be acted on.

The ministry, he said, will review the report before advising the country on the steps to be taken regarding the academic calendar and the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools.

“There are several committees set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the response to the pandemic. I will look into the report and we will have to remove some of the recommendations made by the Education task force and retain others.”

The ministry of Education, he said, will table some of the proposals before the National Emergency Response Committee this weekend for further consultations to inform the decision on reopening schools

“These consultations will also take into consideration the fact that the current government restrictions announced by President Kenyatta will expire on June 6,” he said.

Details in the committee’s report revealed that the team is proposing that this year’s national examinations be pushed to a date not earlier than February next year.

Credible sources on the committee also revealed they have advised that schools be reopened in September.

The report prepared by the Dr Sarah Ruto-chaired committee recommends that the Ministry of Education change the academic calendar to start in September and provide all resources required to keep schools running.

Other recommendations are that school funds that were meant for first term, second and third term should be released in whole in September once classes resume.

Prof Magoha, who seemed to have disagreed with some of the details of the report, said the decision to reopen schools should not be hastened.

He said even though Covid-19 may linger, the ministry has started putting in place measures to ensure children are safeguarded and high levels of hygiene are maintained in schools.

“We will start putting water in our schools and put all the other measures in place for both learners and teachers,” he said.

On private schools, the CS said all learning institutions are closed and those enrolling learners for second term are going against the ministry’s regulations.

He, however, said parents who choose to pay for their children to attend online classes should do it voluntarily.

“Private schools depend on parents and those that have their children studying online should pay,” he said.

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 Nation, DTB help needy families

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By JOSEPH OPENDA

Hannah Muthoni, 39, has not smiled for months. The hard economic times occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic has made life unbearable for her and her family.

When the disease was first reported in the country, she was among the first people to feel its pinch. She was among the casual labourers who were laid off when the flower firm she was working for grounded operations after the government announced containment measures to stem its spread.

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Since then, the mother of seven has been depending on her relatives for help to provide for her family.

But she smiled yesterday, thanks to the initiative by the Nation Media Group (NMG) Board chairman Wilfred Kiboro and Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) to provide relief food for the vulnerable community members.

Ms Muthoni was among the 4,000 residents of Subukia who benefited from the relief food worth over Sh1 million, which was distributed across the three wards in the constituency.

She could not hide her joy after receiving her relief package.

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“It has been a very difficult period for me since my husband and I were sent home from work due to the pandemic. Getting food on the table has been a matter of luck. But, with this package, I’m assured of a meal for two weeks,” said Ms Muthoni.

Dr Kiboro said he took the initiative to look for donors to assist the families who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.He said DTB came in handy and agreed to support the initiative.

“Subukia is my rural home and I realised that most families are suffering in silence. I therefore took it upon myself to use the connections that I have to mobilise support. I thank DTB for supporting the initiative,” said Dr Kiboro.

He called on individuals and corporate organisations that can help to join in the donations to help the vulnerable members of the society.

“This is just a matter of standing up to be counted. I believe everyone can give something to help a neighbour who is in need. I urge everyone to support these families,” said Dr Kiboro.

DTB Nakuru branch manager Lucy Rotich said the bank is committed to supporting poor families in the times of need.

“As DTB, we want to stand in solidarity with our clients in all times since we understand that most people are affected by this pandemic,” said Ms Rotich.

Magdalena Nthenya who was among the beneficiaries, thanked the bank for the donations, saying that it was timely.

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Raphael Lekolool appointed Postbank Managing Director

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Postbank Board of Directors’ Chairman, Mr. Ntoros Baari Ole Senteu, Friday announced the appointment of Raphael Lekolool as the new Postbank Managing Director effective June 1, 2020.

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This follows the retirement of Ms. Anne Karanja from the Postbank after serving in the position of Managing Director for the last six years.

Prior to this appointment, Anne had served in different senior management positions in the same Bank.

In his role as the Managing Director, Mr.Lekolool will be riding on a strong foundation of the existing customer base and digital platforms in pursuit of growing the Bank’s market share while executing the Bank’s strategic Plan.

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The financial world is going digital and one of Postbanks’s priority areas is to exploit technology to ensure customers can handle most of their financial transactions online.

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With his vastexperience in banking, micro finance and insurance sectors, Lekolool is well placed to drive the Bank’s business to the next level while offering customer driven products.

“I have full confidence that my successor, Mr. Lekolool will steer Postbank to greater heights. I take this opportunity to wish him a successful tenure.” said Ms. Karanja.

“We appreciate the stewardship of Ms. Anne Karanja which kept Postbank focused on inculcating a savings culture among Kenyans.” reflected Mr. Baari Ole Senteu, the Board Chairman. “We wish her well in her endeavors as she continues serving the nation in different capacity”added Mr. Senteu.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Lekolool was the Enterprise Risk Manager at UAP, Old Mutual and Head of Internal Audit at Faulu Microfinance.

He is an MBA graduate of Cardiff Business School and holds a BSc. Degree in Banking from University of Manchester.

 

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