, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Proposals to double the salaries of the Attorney General and that of the Chief Justice brew a storm in Parliament as legislators remained divided on the issue.
Backbenchers opposed the salary increases claiming that it was the wrong timing considering the hard economic times the country is undergoing. MPs Millie Odhiambo, Mutava Musyimi, Danson Mungatana and Eugene Wamalwa recommended that the increases be postponed.
“I know life must go on despite the hard times; there is something called sensitivity,” Rev Musyimi said.
Ms Odhiambo added: “Kenyans are dying of hunger and we must not be seen to be insensitive.”
In his proposals AG Amos Wako wanted Parliament to raise his salary and that of CJ Evan Gicheru to close to Sh1 million exclusive of allowances. Judges of the Court of Appeal, Electoral Commission of Kenya commissioners, Controller and Auditor General and members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) are also set for hefty increases.
However, Ms Odhiambo had criticised this move and demanded that Mr Wako declares his interest in the matter.
“The AG has no personal interest in this matter. If I get the increases or not doesn’t matter,” he said.
The AG said that the move to review the perks had been approved by the Cabinet on recommendation by the Permanent Public Service Commission Rremuneration Board. He said that despite various reviews for other civil servants, constitutional office holders have not had their perks reviewed in the last eight years.
“The cost of living and inflation rates have definitely gone up,” he said adding that various civil servants including Permanent Secretaries now earn more than the constitutional office holders.
Mr Wako however said that a lasting solution to the discrepancies in the civil service will be the creation of a remuneration commission to determine the perks of all civil servants as proposed by both the Bomas and Wako drafts.
Mr Mungatana challenged the AG to remove the salary reviews in the bill and await the creation of the remuneration commission in which the perks of all government officers will be harmonised.
“No one is going to die between now and the time the commission is created if the salaries are not increased,” the Garsen MP said.
Government Whip Jakoyo Midiwo however supported Mr Wako.
“The AG, being the chief legal government advisor, must earn more money than he is currently doing,” he said.
The Miscellaneous Amendment Bill also seeks to amend the controversial Media law with a view to remove offensive clauses. Legislators supported part of the amendment but rejected a proposal to fund the Media Council of Kenya saying that it was a professional body like any other and should not enjoy any privilege.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill will also to be revised to give the committee a legal backing to incorporate the views of interest groups.