In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the Salaries and Remunerations Commission has okayed a Kshs. 4.5 billion car grants for members of county assemblies and their speakers.
Initially, SRC had been reluctant to discuss the matter of car grants to ward representatives. But in a letter sent to Council of Governors’ chair Martin Wambora on Tuesday, SRC chairperson Lynn Mengich noted that the commission has been in deliberations over the proposal to issue MCAs with car grants just like their counterparts in parliament.
To observe equity and fairness, Mengich said the commission found logic on an argument about representation and the legislative role of the speaker and member of the county assembly at the ward level with their counterparts at the national assembly who enjoy the facility.
“The SRC takes cognizance of the similarity of the roles of the legislators at the county and national levels. It should be noted that the category of benefits to the legislators at the county and national levels are similar, with the exception of Transport Facilitation Benefit “Car Grant” that is provided to the legislators at the national level,” SRC memo to Wambora read.
Mengich defended the award of the grant saying the taxpayer was not going to dig deeper into her pocket to finance it given that it had already been budgeted for in the current financial year. She supported COG’s assertion that Ksh. 4.5 billion was available for Ward Reps’ car loan and that it only needed to be converted to a grant and in this case, no additional cost was going to be incurred.
“Taking into account the principle of equity and fairness, affordability and fiscal sustainability, SRC hereby reviews the car loan benefit as set earlier to a transport facilitation benefit in the form of a grant,” Mengich said
Upon conversion, Mengich says the existing car loans shall cease and the speakers and members of the county assembly who have already benefited from the existing car loan shall convert their car loan to transport facilitation benefit.
The move by SRC comes barely a few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the ward representatives deserved the car grant just like their counterparts in the national assembly.
His sentiments received support from opposition leader Raila Odinga who said the proposal was justified. According to the former Prime Minister, the ward representatives deserve the said package given that they are “the ones that are in daily contact with the electorate.”
“I know it because whenever I go to my rural area, my home is always full by five or six o’clock and people come with serious problems. I fully understand what you guys meet on daily basis.” He said, during a meeting with ODM MCAs
This had been interpreted as a bribe for the MCAs to pass the BBI Draft Bill which is currently at the county assemblies. BBI proponents have however vehemently dismissed this assertion saying it was a separate matter.