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Broke ex-MPs rush for Sacco savings after election defeat

Some legislators who served in the 11th Parliament have camped at the National Assembly offices to push for quick release of their sacco savings, hinting at the dire financial straits they may be in after expensive election campaigns.

Outgoing members were seeking to access their savings while some of those who retained their seats sought fresh loans.

Officials of the Parliamentary Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (Pacoso) and Bunge Sacco, who cannot be named as it can put their jobs at risk, revealed that the number of members seeking to access their savings has been on the rise in the past three days.

The Pacoso offices, located at Protection House, started teeming with MPs on Tuesday, three days after Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential poll.

NEW LOANS

“We have seen a marked increase in the number of MPs making inquiries either for new loans or access to their savings.

“We have had to regrettably turn down requests for additional loans for those with uncleared balances,” said a sacco official.

Most saccos demand a notice of between three and six months before members can withdraw their savings.

More than 61 per cent of members of the National Assembly, or 179, who served in the 11th Parliament lost their seats. The National Assembly has 290 elective seats.

MPs, including those who have been re-elected, are entitled to gratuity or end-of-term pay. This guarantees each of the 418 members of Parliament, including woman representatives and senators, about Sh6.7 million each. This will be drawn from the Sh2.8 billion that the Treasury allocated for gratuity in the current financial year.

The gratuity takes several weeks to process upon the expiry of the lawmakers’ term.

SPEEDY PAYMENTS

On Thursday, some of the poll losers were busy processing discharge documents to facilitate speedy payment of their dues.

“This form is issued to certify that all office property and other dues have been returned and rights to access property or services have been appropriately discontinued,” the clearance form says.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), the MPs’ employer, runs Pacoso for the members. Individual MPs can also choose to be members of Bunge Sacco, which draws a majority of its membership from the over 1,200 PSC staff.

The hive of activity at Pacoso and Bunge Sacco offices signals the harsh realities of heavy campaign spending that has taken a toll on MPs’ finances, starting from party primaries in April to the General Election on August 8.

MPs are heavy spenders and have been relying on their hefty salaries and bank loans to maintain lavish lifestyles.

In the past, elected MPs relied on a Sh5 million car grant to cushion them from the effects of campaign spending as they waited to earn their salaries at the end of the month following their swearing-in.

FIRST SALARIES

With the scrapping of the car grant by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), newly elected and broke MPs may be forced to rely on bank overdrafts as they wait for their first salaries.

In July, the Sarah Serem-led SRC announced a new pay structure that reduced the gross salaries of all State officials, including MPs.

Each member of the 418-member bicameral Parliament will take home Sh621,250 per month, down from Sh710,000. The SRC also scrapped sitting allowances for plenary as well as special parliamentary allowances.

The salaries commission has also replaced mileage allowance, which has been prone to abuse, with a zoning system for purposes of calculating monthly transport allowances for the Senate, county and National Assembly leaders.

Kenyan lawmakers are among the highest-paid politicians in the world, earning a cumulative pay of Sh1.33 million a month, courtesy of unlimited committee sessions and mileage allowances, before the latest review.

This story was first published by Business Daily.