Members of Parliament in Kenya could soon hold virtual meetings and conduct online debate sessions as they pass laws on dealing with COVID-19.
The House’s sitting capacity has been reduced from 418 seats to 40 to ensure proper spacing and social distancing.
Parliament is also in the process of reviewing some of its standing orders as well as developing new rules to accommodate virtual sessions and online debates.
guide online debate sessions.
The House resumes its sittings today after end year recess. It is expected to prioritize
approval of Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposed fiscal measures that are aimed at cushioning Kenyans from the negative impacts of COVID19.
Members of Parliament will be required to approve proposals to reduce Value Added Tax(VAT) from the current 16 percent to 14 percent. Those earning less than 24,000 per month are also to be exempted from income tax.
There will be 53 seats designated for use by members in the chamber, for voting purposes.
MPs and parliamentary staff aged 58 years and above, those with pre-existing medical conditions as well as those expectant or lactating, are encouraged to work from home.
Members and staff who have taken voluntary tests but have not received their results, as well as those who may have come into contact with COVID-19 cases, are asked to refrain from attending sittings or its committees.
Members are advised to stop exchanging seats. In the event that a seat becomes vacant, it will immediately be disinfected.
MPs, staff and service providers will be required to wear a face mask, at all times. This rule will also apply to parliamentary staff and all those individuals accessing the precincts of parliament.
All other Ministry of Health rules on use of sanitization facilities and social distancing, as per sitting arrangements within parliament’s designated areas, will apply.
The Main Members’ Dinning area has since been converted into a holding area, which has been reconfigured to have only 36 members from the initial 240.
The Upper Members’ lounge shall now have 16 members from the previous 130 while the Small Dinning Room shall take 10 members instead of the initial 50.
Waiting areas shall be set up at the courtyard, each manned by at least two officers at a time.
Staff deployed during House sittings have also been reduced. The Ministry of Health will advise parliament on implementation and adherence to health and safety measures at all times.