About 12,000 former councillors who have been pushing for Sh18 billion pension will next week know if they will get the retirement package to alleviate their financial pain.
The National Treasury is expected to release a report of a task force that had been formed to inquire into their plight and make appropriate recommendations.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani on Wednesday told a Senate committee that his Ministry is currently validating the report before making it public.
The Senate Labour and Social Welfare committee had summoned Yatani alongside his Labour and Devolution counterparts Simon Chelugui and Eugene Wamalwa respectively to explain the inordinate delay to pay the ex-councillors.
But the three CSs skipped the session, with Yatani writing to the panel, seeking two weeks to finalise the validation of the report.
“The National Treasury in conjunction with the Ministries of Labour and Devolution and ASALS is currently validating the taskforce report in readiness for the committee meeting,” Yatani said in a letter to the panel.
But the committee chairman Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) rejected the required and ordered that the three appear next Wednesday.
“We do not accept the reason for non-attendance. I order they appear next week, failure which we shall invoke the Powers and Privileges Act,” Sakaja said.
During the session, the former councillor, through Geoffrey Gitau, an official of the National Forum of Former councillors narrated how he and his colleagues are languishing in abject poverty.
“We are very poor. We don’t have anything to eat. Most of us are very old and some have even passed on without getting this money,” Gitau said.
In 2018, the Senate approved a motion sponsored by Kinyua (Laikipia) to give the former councillors sendoff perks.
In the motion, the ex-ward representatives were to receive a Sh1.5 million one-off payment and a Sh30,000 monthly pension.
There are at least 12,000 former councillors. This, therefore, means that the taxpayers would shoulder a bill of Sh18 billion for the leaders who served before devolution.
The pension of the former councillors would total Sh360 million per month.
Kinyua’s motion came as National Treasury appeared to have ignored the recommendation of the Senate Labour and Social Welfare committee which had in 2016 directed that the leaders be paid.
This was after the National Forum of Former Councillors petitioned the Senate regarding the need for legislative interventions to address their plight and welfare.
“The National Treasury, the State Department for Devolution and Social Services should take the necessary steps to implement the recommendations of the report. Many former councillors live in abject poverty, yet they worked for this country tirelessly,” Kinyua has said.
In February, Speaker Kenneth Lusaka ordered the Sakaja committee to immediately establish the status of implementation of the House resolution.
This after Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua reignited the debate on the floor of the House.
On Wednesday, the committee members regretted the prolonged delays and apparent reluctance by the government to pay former leaders even after the Senate passed a resolution to unlock their payments.
“This is a very serious issue. These people have served this country for vert many years. It is degrading, to say the least, if they can’t get their pension at all,” Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi said.