Details have now emerged on the difficult position that officials in the National Treasury have found themselves following the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM Leader Raila Odinga.
The Business Daily on Monday quoted some of the Treasury officials leaking details of some of the demands that they have received from Raila Odinga’s office.
The former Prime Minister has been demanding for his pension perks, some of which overlap with the benefits he receives in his capacity as African Union’s special envoy for infrastructure development.
Apparently, the Treasury and former prime minister Raila are locked in a standoff over a freeze of his pension perks due to the African Union job and failure to return government cars after leaving office as PM in 2013.
The State has frozen the lavish retirement benefits due to Raila because he is already enjoying similar perks in his capacity as African Union’s special envoy for infrastructure development.
However, the move has drawn protests from Raila’s secretariat.
The perks at the center of the dispute include medical insurance, fuel allowance, fully furnished offices as well as 17 workers – including chefs, security, accountants, secretaries and personal assistants – all hired at taxpayers’ expense.
Treasury officials say that Raila has been enjoying similar benefits since his appointment to the African Union job, which, according to the Treasury, he secured after being backed by the Kenyan government.
Raila’s secretariat however has accused the Treasury of seeking to once again deny him his rightful share of pension, saying that the AU perks are not financed by Kenyan taxpayers.
“We are ready to pay Raila his monthly pension and not the benefits because he is already enjoying the perks from the AU,” said a top Treasury official who sought anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
“Paying the benefits will amount to double allocation. How do we go back to the IG to seek for additional security yet the same office has offered Mr Odinga police for protection due to the AU job?”
Raila was appointed to the AU position in October last year and has two offices; one in Nairobi and the other in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The AU provides him with medical cover, staff and cars. The ODM leader’s secretariat has asked the Treasury to give the former PM’s office the cash equivalent to the benefits, a proposal that the former has declined.
“The law does not support for cash benefit. We are mandated to provide benefits, but we may be forced to seek the Attorney-General’s advice on this demand,” said the source.
According to the law, the former PM is entitled a monthly pension equivalent to 80 percent of his last salary, a lump sum of equivalent to 12 months of his last pay, security, medical insurance and a diplomatic passport for himself and spouse.
Other perks that Raila is expected to enjoy are; one personal assistant, one secretary, one accountant, two housekeepers, two senior support staff, two gardeners, armed security and two cleaners.
The others are two saloon cars and a four-wheel drive vehicle, both of which will come with three drivers and a fuel allowance equivalent to 15 percent of the monthly pay of the serving Deputy President. The vehicles are to be replaced after every four years.
Taxpayers will cater for maintenance of the vehicles at dealerships. This is yet another bone of contention.
“We cannot give him vehicles yet government records indicate he never returned cars allocated to him while serving as PM,” said the Treasury source.
Raila is said to have retained some government vehicles allocated to him in the five years he served as PM, before losing the battle for the presidency to Mr Kenyatta in 2013. He had four Mercedes Benz cars, two Toyota Prados, a Range Rover and a Nissan saloon car.
In the early days of Mr Kenyatta’s presidency, the government had ordered Raila to return the cars, sparking protests from his supporters who deemed the order an act of humiliation.
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