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Envoy roasts MPs over taxes

NAIROBI, November 13 – The German Ambassador Walter Lindner has criticised Members of Parliament for exempting themselves from paying taxes on their allowances.

Speaking during a German Business Community luncheon in Nairobi, the Ambassador said MPs in his home country pay taxes like other employees.

“MPs in Germany pay taxes and are proud to pay taxes.  They pass many Bills that require sacrifices by tax payers, so if they will not pay taxes, it will not be justifiable to the electorate,” he pointed out.

He said MPs in his country also earned salaries similar to the salaries paid to the middle class, adding that there were no huge income disparities like is the case in Kenya.

"When you look at the ratio between the income of an MP and the average salary on the country in Germany, the ratio is not big. It is not only the salary that is considered when looking at the level of income of MPs but also all allowances and perks that they enjoy,” he said.

Mr Lindner also observed that Kenyan legislators were among the highest paid MPs in the world.

The Ambassador further said MPs in most European countries had a duty to serve the interests of the people who elected them.

“We have this principle that if you want to become rich don’t become a politician.  Become a businessman, because to be a MP is not a source of getting rich or your right for ‘eating.’  You have to be a role model, that’s why they vote for you,” he said.

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In efforts to promote transparency, Mr Lindner said German MPs are required to declare their wealth before going to Parliament and after serving in Parliament.

His statement contradicts assertions in Parliament by Gwasi MP John Mbadi that MPs in Germany earn double of what Kenyan lawmakers earn.

Mbadi was reacting to public resentment of arm-twisting by MPs that led to removal of taxation measures in the Finance Bill.

The decision to tax MPs was introduced by former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya but it drew sharp divisions among legislators.

An attempt by Acting Minister John Michuki to have the Finance Bill passed with the clause to tax legislators was frustrated last week when MPs literally walked out of Parliament causing a quorum hitch.

MPs had vowed to frustrate the Bill a second time but approved it on Wednesday, after the proposal was removed.

Mr Lindner urged the media to remain vigilant on the issue to enable the public express their views.

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