They were taken aback to learn that their choice of destination for benchmarking on emoluments was grudgingly paying its lawmakers way below what they get
Uganda shares commonalities with its neighbour Kenya, geographically and ethnically, but when it comes to emoluments and privileges for politicians, the Ugandan lawmakers are left to envy their Kenyan counterparts.
A team of six Kenyan MPs were in Kampala on Tuesday to, among others, compare notes with Uganda on their privileges and welfare, but were left at a loss for words when members on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee, led by Jacob Oboth Oboth (West Budama South), narrated their plight.
When granted permission to relay why they were in Uganda, the head of the Kenyan delegation, Vincent Mogaka Kemosi, the MP for West Mugirango, explained that they were here to benchmark on how to revise their Parliament rules of procedure and best practices.
He went on to indicate that they (Kenyans) understand that Ugandan MPs have a way around their allowances and salaries and get about sh5m more for motor vehicle grants.
"We have the worst form of housing mortgage in the world. We are required to service our mortgage loans in a space of only five years, at a 3% interest rate annually," Kemosi said.
However, the Kenyan MPs were taken aback to learn that their choice of destination for benchmarking on emoluments was grudgingly paying its lawmakers way below what they get.
"Our finance management laws do not allow a motion for a charge on the consolidated fund without cabinet approval, but it is done by the Parliament commission. This is because we do not want another arm of Government interfering with the doctrine of separation of powers and some independence, but your emoluments are far better than ours," Oboth said.
"We actually need prayers because when you visit our parking space, you will find old Toyota TXs, while yours (Kenya) has brand new Toyota VXs. Yours is a one-off payment but ours is in instalments."
The Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba, said Kenyans are even lucky they have a ‘bad housing mortgage', because for them (Ugandan) they do not have such privileges.
Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) said the Kenyans should not be complaining about the structure of their housing mortgage because commercial banks cannot risk lending MPs money to be paid back in a period longer than their term of office.
The Kenyan MPs are entitled to a Ksh5m (about sh178.8m) one-off car grant and Ksh20m (about sh715.3m). However, last year, amid public outrage, they sought to increase the allowances saying they were grossly inadequate.
In the case of Uganda, MPs receive sh5.2m monthly housing allowances, while the Speaker and Deputy Speaker get sh6.4m for the same.
They are also entitled to a one-off sh200m car grant that is fuelled daily at about sh4,000 market pump price according to the constituency mileage.
Whereas the Ugandan MP is paid an average of sh22m, including sitting allowances, per month, which is six times higher than most Government employees, their Kenyan counterparts are quoted as bagging an average annual salary of about Ksh175,000 (about sh6.2m), but they wanted this increased to ksh1m (about sh35.7m), placing them among the highest paid in the world.
Kimilili MP Didmus Wekesa Barasa implored Ugandans to back them, in the bid to streamline MPs privileges and immunities in East Africa, as is the case for diplomats because they are representatives of the people.
Niwagaba advised that since Uganda's privileges for MPs are based on outdated colonial laws, Kenyan MPs should consider benchmarking from Canada, that has the best practice in the world.