The Treasury is set to stop funding the office of the late President Mwai Kibaki, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of shillings in retirement benefits offered to the former Head of State.
Mr Kibaki, who died on April 22 at 90, had been receiving retirement benefits, including a fleet of luxury cars, a fully-furnished office and about 40 workers, since leaving office in 2013.
Now, the Treasury says that the office will cease to exist, and some of the workers will be declared redundant, with those on secondment reabsorbed in ministries and other agencies.
Mr Kibaki received annual pension of Sh34.2 million or Sh2.85 million monthly — which is equivalent to the salary and benefits of top chief executives of State-owned firms.
His office cost taxpayers Sh98.6 million in the year ended June and the Treasury has allocated Sh101.1 million for the fiscal year starting July 1.
“The law demands that payment linked to the Kibaki’s retirement benefits be withdrawn upon death and we expect the office to be wound up over the next three months,” said a source at the Treasury, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The withdrawal will be similar to what happened to the office of President Daniel arap Moi when he died on February 4.
Running Mr Moi’s and Mr Kibaki’s offices cost taxpayers Sh243 million in the year to June 2020, with compensation to their staff, excluding those seconded from the government, taking Sh126 million.
Aides seconded from the government, including press secretaries and security officers, are paid by the parent ministry.
In Mr Kibaki’s office Ngari Gituku, a long-serving civil servant, served as the late president’s private secretary.
Other aides such as Stanley Murage, who served as the policy and programmes adviser, will exit as the office gets wound up. Mr Murage was Mr Kibaki’s only formal policy adviser during his tenure as head of state.
The withdrawal of funding for the two offices means that Kenya will for the first time since 2002 not have a budget to cater for the workplace of retired presidents.
The Treasury omitted allocations for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s retirement office and staff from the budget for the year starting July, another pointer to the Head of State’s quest to remain active in party politics.
The estimated Sh100 million allocation would have catered for a fully furnished office for the retired president, aides, limousines and other perks such as house, fuel and entertainment allowances.
It is understood that the Treasury is avoiding breaching sections of the law that bars a retired president from holding office in a political party six months after retirement.
Voters are due to go to the polls on August 9 but Mr Kenyatta will not be on the ballot due to a constitutional limit of two five-year terms.
Mr Kenyatta was in February offered a five-year term as head of Jubilee Party and is listed as chairman of the council of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, the vehicle veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga used to launch his fifth bid for Kenya’s presidency.
The law, however, allows the Treasury to provide a retired president with a monthly pension of Sh691,200 irrespective of political affiliation.
Mr Kibaki’s 2002 election ended 40 years of one-party rule since independence when Mr Moi retired and he served for two terms to 2013.
He is credited with reviving Kenya’s then-ailing economy, but his tenure was marred by deadly violence that killed more than 1,200 Kenyans following his disputed re-election in December 2007.
He also struggled to tackle widespread corruption as Kenya’s third president
Retirement benefits for former presidents have come under sharp focus, especially in the past couple of years when allocations increased by large margins, even as the government insisted it had put in place austerity measures to deal with a burgeoning recurrent expenditure, including the wage bill.
In 2015, a High Court judge stopped the government from paying allowances worth millions of shillings to Mr Kibaki and Mr Moi after finding that they were an unnecessary expense.
The Attorney-General appealed the decision, allowing the two to continue enjoying their retirement emoluments.
Sections of the law that the court nullified entitled Mr Kibaki and Mr Moi to a Sh300,000 house allowance per month, fuel (Sh200,000), entertainment (Sh200,000) and utilities (Sh300,000).
The law also entitled them to two personal assistants, four secretaries, four messengers, four drivers and bodyguards, pushing the office and home workers to 34 under the scheme funded from public coffers. They were also entitled to four cars that were to be replaced every four years.
Sourced from Business Daily