How perks drove MPs' foreign trip choices – Business Daily
A Section of 11 Mps From North Eastern at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on March 1, 2020, after returning from a trip to Somalia. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG
Dubai, Riyadh, Istanbul, Singapore, Geneva and New York were the top destinations for MPs in the five-year tenure of this Parliament, as the choice of place appeared to follow perks.
A Business Daily analysis of the travel destinations for committees of the 12th Parliament whose term ends on August 8, shows that legislators made numerous trips to these cities that attract the highest amounts in per diem, and it mattered little the value of the trip on their oversight role.
The cities offer lawmakers the most lucrative per diems led by Singapore where an MP earn Sh152,928 ($1,296) per diem a night, followed by Sh141,128 ($1,196) on trips to the US and London at Sh130,744 ($1,108) a night.
MPs, however, made minimal trips to African capitals which attract less per diem like Maseru, the capital of Lesotho where they earn Sh52,288 at the current exchange rate.
A circular issued by the Parliamentary Service Commission shows that trips to Dubai and Geneva, other popular destinations for training and benchmarking trips for MPs, earned them Sh104,902 ($889) and Sh130,036 ($1,102) respectively in per diem.
The majority of the globetrotting MPs travelled to the high-paying destinations for benchmarking visits, fact-finding missions and conferences rather than to undertake key investigations that form part of their oversight mandate.
“The committee undertook the following foreign travel activities during the fifth session: capacity building in Dubai, UAE, from 11th to 20th June 2021,” the Labour committee said in its exit report.
A sample of various end-of-term reports shows that five out of eight committees made more than two trips to Dubai (UAE), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Istanbul (Turkey), Singapore, Geneva (Switzerland) and Washington (USA) for either benchmarking or conferences.
The committees which were expected to file reports on return include Health, Labour, ICT, Energy, Education and Justice and Legal Affairs.
The departmental committee on Health top the list of House teams that made the highest trips abroad having travelled 23 times over the past five years.
The Finance and National Planning and that of Justice and Legal Affairs came in second with 19 trips each while the Defence and Foreign Relations committee whose main mandate is to oversight Kenya’s missions abroad made 16 tours to various world capitals.
Others are the Departmental Committee on Education (16), Labour and Social Welfare (14), ICT (15), Agriculture 11 and Energy (11).
The Justice and Legal Affairs committee made three trips to Dubai, the last being a fact-finding mission on diaspora registration of voters that took place between May 23 to 29, 2022.
“Over the five years the committee has been in place, the committee has done both benchmarking visits as well as conferences to learn best practices in other jurisdictions to improve on effectively examining its mandate,” the Budget and Appropriations Committee said in its exit report.
Droves of Kenyan lawmakers also toured top world capitals in the UK, France, Japan, Germany, China, Canada, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Austria, Turkey, Korea and Russia.
In Africa, committees preferred to travel to Ethiopia where MPs earn Sh94,754 per night, Zambia (Sh78,025), Ivory Coast (Sh76,723), Uganda (Sh76,012), Tanzania (Sh74,473), Senegal (Sh72,579), Djibouti (Sh64,528), South Africa (Sh60,451), Mauritius (Sh59,792 and Ghana (Sh59,200).