, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya wants allowances for Cabinet Minister increased, arguing that the current perks are not sufficient.
Giving his views before the Akiwumi Tribunal on Friday, Mr Oparanya complained Cabinet Ministers were for instance often forced to use their own cash to entertain colleagues visiting from other countries.
"If I have to entertain a colleague, I need to go for imprest and it has to be carried by my Personal Assistant. But if I have club membership, I can easily take my colleague to a club and sign (for the bills)," he said.
Mr Oparanya said Ministers were also very busy and required more logistical support to be able to operate efficiently.
Ministers get 200,000 shillings and Assistant Ministers get Sh100, 000 as responsibility allowance.
They also get a domestic allowance of 23,000 and telephone allowance of 29,000 shillings in addition to a government vehicle. Government vehicles are also fuelled at the State’s expense.
Mr Oparanya told the Tribunal that Assistant Ministers were being under utilised leaving the entire workload on Ministers.
He said despite getting a responsibility allowance of Sh100, 000 they were left with very little to do.
"They are being underutilised because they have no specific duties given to them… they depend on what the Minister assigns them," he said.
He asked the appointing authority to define their roles to ensure they deserved their responsibility allowance and also help reduce the work load Ministers have to deal with.
"Why get a responsibility allowance if you are not working? The emphasis is on the Minister. Even when I am away, files still come to my office instead of the file going to the assistant. You find the work piled there until when you come," he said.
On the controversial pecking order in government, Mr Oparanya was of the view that the Prime Minister should get a higher salary than the Vice President if the spirit of the National Accord was to be applied.
He however described the national accord as unclear, leading confusion in the coalition government.
TAXATION OF MPs
Mr Oparanya was not categorical if the MPs allowances should be fully taxed or not. Even though he said they should be taxed, he asked for compensation arguing that MPs were paying many indirect allowances.
He also said they spent a lot of money to get elected unlike other careers.
He further claimed that their constituents mistake the roles of MPs and present them with both public and personal challenges. MPs get a salary of Sh200,000 which is taxed (about 50,000). Each one of them also gets Sh600,000 as allowances which are not taxed.
The 10th Parliament has been strongly criticised by religious groups, the media, the civil society and the general public for their refusal to pay tax.
Last year MPs shot down the Finance Bill 2008 forcing by then Acting Finance Minister John Michuki to delete the clause requiring them to pay taxes.
The tribunal set up to review MPs and staff of the National Assembly terms of service will next week move to Garissa to collect views.
Next month the Prime Minister, Vice President, Speaker of the National Assembly, the Clerk, and the Finance Minister are expected to appear before the tribunal.