, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday assured County Assembly members (MCAs) that they are entitled to car grants, just like Members of Parliament (MPs).
Uhuru who spoke at a retreat for MCAs in Mombasa explained that neither MPs nor MCAs were superior to the other as they were both elected into office by the same Kenyans and the rules governing their benefits should therefore not be discriminatory.
“As the white man says, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If it’s a car loan, let it be a car loan for everybody. If it is a grant, it must be a grant for everybody. Justice is justice,” he reiterated.
As things stand, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) entitled MCAs to a Sh2 million car loan to be paid back on a three percent interest rate within their term in office.
MPs on the other hand are able to access a Sh5 million car grant, interest free, in addition to a Sh7 million car loan which MCAs have argued they also deserve as they too carry out a legislative function.
“At the end of functions we both attend the MPs drive away while we’re forced to borrow lifts, ride a boda boda or walk and yet we have constituents to access just like them,” Baringo County Assembly member Joseph Makilap complained.
President Kenyatta’s assurance comes at a time when the Executive is pushing to drive the wage bill down and while he sided with the MCAs in their fight for equality with MPs, he impressed upon them the need to keep their demands reasonable.
“I took a pay cut to set an example, not simply because I can afford to. We need to set aside more money for development so we can generate more income. Then if you ask for a pay rise Kenyans will have no problem with it because they can see the hard work you’re doing.
“If it were up to me we’d all be paid the same. If it’s Sh100,000, it’s 100,000 for the Chief Justice, Uhuru and the Governor. Let us not fight over money. Let us fight to deliver services to the people,” he said.
But despite the drive to reduce the public wage bill, President Kenyatta said devolution should not pay the price.
“Devolution is not a matter of choice. It is a constitutional right. It is guaranteed. And there is no single individual or institution that has the power to kill devolution. It is the corner stone of our new Constitution. Let us give it a chance to propel development in our counties and make them self sustaining,” he said.
He added that negating the need to ensure a third of the members of county assemblies are women – if necessary through nomination – through a constitutional amendment was also not the answer to burgeoning wage bill.
“That is why there is a sunset clause. It’s not something that was to last forever. The Constitution has given women 15 years to learn. So there is no need to amend the one-third gender rule,” he said.