Politics

SRC: No allowances for ward reps

SRC: No allowances for ward reps
  • Motions were expected to be tabled in the 47 county assemblies before recess that began this week
  • CAF chairman Ndegwa Wahome, who is also the Speaker of the Nyandarua County Assembly, maintains that ward representatives are entitled to the allowance “like any State officer”.

  • The Nyandarua Speaker added that unlike the State officers who are on permanent and pensionable terms, ward representatives have a five-year contract with voters.

  • Mr Wahome said the argument by the commission that ward representatives’ house allowance was consolidated in their gross pay of Sh123,000 is misleading.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has thwarted attempts by county assemblies to pass a law that would have seen the 1,450 ward representatives begin getting house allowance.

The move comes at a time the commission is fighting attempts by members of the National Assembly and senators to award themselves a similar allowance on grounds that they are State officers.

SH1.4 BILLION

The SRC has filed a case in court seeking to stop the implementation of the allowances. Every MP’s Sh250,000 monthly allowance was backdated from October 2018.

The SRC suit is also seeking to recover the millions of shillings the lawmakers have already pocketed.

On July 29, the County Assemblies Forum wrote to the 47 assemblies advising them to table motions on payment of house allowances to members.

The motions were expected to be tabled on July 31 before the ward representatives proceeded on a recess that started on August 7 and is expected to end on September 10.

Some assemblies had already scheduled the motions in their order papers before the SRC struck. The ward representatives want Sh65,000 to Sh85,000 in house allowance per month.

This would have seen representatives collectively pocket between Sh94.2 million and Sh123.2 million per month, translating to Sh1.1 billion and Sh1.4 billion annually for the remainder of their term.

In a July 30 letter addressed to county assembly clerks and speakers and copied to county finance executives and the Office of the Controller of Budget, the commission said the assemblies have no mandate to confer on ward representatives the allowance.

The letter was also copied to deputy speakers, majority leaders, minority leaders and whips of the assemblies.

ATTEND FUNERALS

“SRC wants to reiterate that the setting and review of house allowance is the exclusive mandate of the commission,” the letter by chief executive officer Anne Gitau said.

Ms Gitau advised the assemblies to stop discussing and passing any motion on house allowances, adding that doing so would be against the law.

It said any money paid to the ward representatives as house allowance would be recovered.

“Going against this directive is tantamount to usurping the constitutional role of the SRC. Payment of benefits, including house allowance, outside the SRC structure, is illegal,” Ms Gitau said.

However, new CAF chairman Ndegwa Wahome, who is also the Speaker of the Nyandarua County Assembly, maintained that ward representatives are entitled to the allowance “like any State officer”.

“It is unfair to deny ward representatives their constitutional right,” Mr Wahome said.

“We want to be at par with State officers in job group P who get Sh300,000 as salary and a house allowance of between Sh65,000 and Sh85,000. It should be remembered that these other officers are never invited to funerals, do not pay hospital bills or attend baby showers.”

STRIKE DEAL

The Nyandarua Speaker added that unlike the State officers who are on permanent and pensionable terms, ward representatives have a five-year contract with voters.

Mr Wahome said the argument by the commission that ward representatives’ house allowance was consolidated in their gross pay of Sh123,000 is misleading.

He said following the directive to stop the motion, CAF has begun talks with SRC “to unlock the stalemate”.

“We are happy the SRC is listening to us and hope to strike a deal in the next couple of weeks on how to end discrimination against ward representatives,” Mr Wahome added.

The sudden agitation by lawmakers follows the October 2018 High Court ruling that ordered the commission to pay deputy governors house allowance.

Using the ruling, the 416 MPs awarded themselves Sh250,000 a month in house allowance each.