, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said that Parliament will be in breach of the law if lawmakers go ahead and increase their salaries.
The Prime Minister said on Sunday that there were clear laid down procedures on how their salaries were supposed to be reviewed, which is through an independent commission.
Addressing journalists at his Karen home hours after he was discharged from hospital, Mr Odinga said if the report by an independent commission was adopted by the current House, its implementation should be left to the next Parliament.
“The current terms and conditions of Members of Parliament were recommended by the Cockar Commission and there was a row when the former Minister for Finance suggested that MPs be taxed and that is what informed the formation of the Akiwumi Commission,” the Premier explained.
He said although the Akiwumi Commission was supposed to make recommendations, they were not for implementation by this Parliament.
“It was also to look at how the MPs salary was to be taxed; it was not to increase the salaries, so the commission was misguided,” he said.
“In any case we are in the process of introducing a new Constitution which provides for the formation of an independent commission that will be looking at salaries for Members of Parliament,” he added.
The Prime Minister said it was not right for the legislators to increase their salaries arbitrarily and added that it sent the wrong signal to Kenyans.
“This is a time when the economy of this country is very strained,” he said.
Mr Odinga downplayed fears that the MPs may shoot down a Motion of House adjournment if they didn’t have their way in the proposed salary increment which may interfere with campaigns ahead of the Constitution referendum.
“I don’t think that they will behave like mercenaries to try to loot the tax payers who are also their voters. I am sure that MPs are going to see the need for adoption of the new Constitution so that they do not just waste time in Parliament because opposing the Motion of adjournment will basically mean postponing issues and that will affect both the Yes and No campaigns,” he said.
At the same time the Premier said that the government had committed to provide full protection to the No camp in its campaign against the proposed Constitution.
He said this was agreed upon after consultation with President Kibaki adding that those opposed to the proposed law were within their democratic right.
Mr Odinga said the country needed to hold together whether or not the proposed Constitution passed in the August 4 referendum.
“We want to make this country a very open and tolerant society and that’s why we have said that those who are opposing have got grounds and reasons to oppose and that therefore they have democratic space to execute their campaign against the draft Constitution,” he said.
He however expressed optimism that Kenyans would pass the proposed Constitution come the referendum.
“I am happy with the way the President and the rest of the team have continued to execute the campaigns for Yes,” he said.
MPs passed a proposal to increase their salaries last week, but Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta immediately indicated that he would not table necessary Bills to implement the increment since it was not factored in the 2010-2011 Budget. He also said such an increase would lead to borrowing to finance it, which was not sustainable under the current economic conditions.