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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Parliament digs in for its third major money battle against the Treasury next week, with MPs basking in self-belief that nothing will stop them from getting the proposed hefty perks before the August 4 referendum. Their game plan is straightforward: Shoot down all government motions, Bills and policy papers, including the Finance Bill and the Appropriations Bill. As a result, the government will be starved of money such that unless and until the new pay package is legalised they will cripple government activities. This has to be done before the referendum. Besides, now that they don’t want to go on recess, they are also determined to quietly campaign against the proposed Constitution, if the government doesn’t budge. The pressure on government — the leverage for the lawmakers — is the August 31 deadline for approving the Appropriations Bill, to allow the government to legally draw money from its coffers. Gwassi MP John Mbadi told the Saturday Nation: “MPs can’t lose right now, unless they just relent. There has never been a precedent where an MP’s income has been reduced.” This sentiment echoes that of a senior Cabinet minister involved in the budgeting process who was heard telling his colleagues to “sit tight” because “lazima utoke na kitu, kwa sababu hujui kama utarudi” (You’ve got to get something, because you aren’t sure you’ll get re-elected).” Mr Mbadi, who sits in the powerful Public Investment Committee, likened the taxation sword looming over their heads to an attack on Parliament. “We are just being careful about our welfare. When your home is invaded, hata kama sina nguvu si nitapigana? (Even if I am weak, I’ll fight back)” he said. PSC vice-chairman Walter Nyambati was keen to point out that the perceived salary increment was money the tax-man was coming for immediately MPs join other Kenyans in paying tax. His argument is that it would be unfair for MPs’ salaries to start being taxed midway through their contract.