MPs slot evening plenary in new calendar
The National Assembly yesterday adjusted its calendar to introduce evening sittings for the first time in the history of independent Kenya’s Parliament.
In the revised calendar tabled before the House, Wednesday sittings have been suspended with effect from February 17. Members normally have two sittings on Wednesdays.
Following the changes, an additional sitting has been introduced, meaning that MPs will make an extra Sh5,000 each in sitting allowances.
The evening sittings will be held on Tuesday and Thursdays, whereby members will have a sitting starting at 2.30pm to 6.30pm and another one slated for 7pm to 9pm.
Thursdays will have three sittings starting from 10 am to 1pm; the second one will run from 2.30pm to 6.30pm with the third one starting from 7 pm to 9 pm.
In moving the procedural motion, Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said the changes have been made to create ample time for private member businesses to be handled.
According to Kimunya, there are currently a lot of pending statements and motions sponsored by private members, which need to be dispensed with in the remaining tenure of the 12th Parliament.
“We have realised that most of the pending business sponsored by members, will not be completed and hence we need to create time to allow members to debate and finish the work ahead,”Kimunya said.
He added: “Business not sponsored by the Majority Party or the Minority Party or a committee shall have precedence over all other business, in such order as the House Business Committee may determine.”
Seconding the motion, Minority Leader John Mbadi said members required more time to deliberate on their motions which have been pending for a long time.
In 2019, MPs tried to introduce a scheme to claim a night allowance whenever they are in Nairobi to attend sessions.
Dubbed the “Domestic Subsistence Facilitation”, the new scheme which was however rejected by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, had been crafted to see each MP earn to between Sh18,200 and Sh24,000 per night.
Parliamentary business is conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, meaning the MPs could have claimed the money for four nights — Monday to Thursday.
Procedurally, Parliament can extend its sittings but only through the approval of members.
In some instances, the sittings have been extended up to midnight to allow members to finish important motions which may have timelines.
During the passing of the controversial Security Laws, Parliament was forced to prolong its sittings past 10pm, following a clash between the two sides of the political divide which came to blows culminating to the suspension of the sitting several times.
During this first sitting of the year, the National Assembly will have its tray full of business which includes, this year’s budget and the Building Bridges Initiative Bill, which will be coming anytime if it is passes the constitutional threshold at the county assemblies.
They are also crucial Bills ahead including the Tea and Coffee Bills, Pharmacy and Poisons Bill, Criminal Procedure Code, Higher Education Loans Board (Amendment) Bill, Excise Duty, (Amendment) Bill among others.