Kenya MPs Given Ultimatum to Pay Back $10m ‘Illegal’ Housing Allowance

This is Ksh 5.6 billion higher than the estimates that had been published by the National Treasury.

Kenyan legislators have been ordered to pay back KSh 1.2 billion ($10 million) by the High Court which ruled that the money had been unlawfully given to them as housing allowances.

A three-judge bench, Justices Pauline Nyamweya, Weldon Korir and John Mativo ordered clerks of the Senate and the National Assembly to recover in full the KSh1.2 billion from the lawmakers’ salaries and allowances within a period of 12 months. 

“…pursuant to the illegal and unconstitutional decision of the Parliamentary Service Commission to set, and approve the payment of accommodation or house allowance to Members of Parliament contrary to the structure of Remuneration and Benefits of all State Officers in Parliament that is set and communicated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission,” said the judges. 

This means each MP will pay KSh2.8 million within the said period if the ruling will not be appealed.

“Having found that PSC contravened several constitutional provisions, we also found that the accounting officers for the PSC and Parliament are therefore also culpable for failing to undertake their obligations under the Public Finance Management Act in this regard,” ruled the Judges.

The case, Petition No. 208 of 2019 was consolidated with Petition Numbers 185 of 2019 and 339 of 2019 in June last by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and Human Rights Activist Okiya Omtatah stopping PSC from paying MPs the disputed house allowance.

However, in a statement seen by Khusoko, the National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai argues that MPs would be required to return Ksh 1 million and not the Ksh 2.8 million if the court ruling is implemented.

“The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), using a Court ruling that had stated that Deputy Governors were entitled to house allowance, and given that all public officers including Cabinet Secretaries are entitled to housing allowance/accommodation facilitation, processed payment of house allowance to Members of Parliament and informed the SRC. The Amount approved was KSh250,000 subject to 30 per cent tax,” Sialai explained.

“The National Assembly paid only KSh357,039,516 for five and a half months before SRC obtained stay of execution. Thus only an amount of KSh1,023,035 per MP would have to be recovered if the ruling is sustained.”