, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – Gatanga Member of Parliament Peter Kenneth has urged legislators opposed to the proposed salary and allowance increase to show their commitment by joining him in paying tax on their current perks.
Mr Kenneth, who is also against the planned raise, said it was wrong for MPs to continue enjoying hefty pay derived from taxes paid by the public, while the lawmakers do not pay taxes on their attractive allowances.
"If they have been genuine opposing the increase, they should now move to the next step to also lead in paying taxes," he said.
He called on Prime Minister Raila Odinga and deputy premier Uhuru Kenyatta who have led opposition to the proposed pay increase to lead the way in paying taxes on their current benefits.
"It is important that we not only say no to these new salaries but we also pay taxes like everybody else," said the Assistant Minister for Planning.
Currently, MPs only pay tax only in their basic pay of Sh200,000 out of their salary of Sh851,000.
Mr Kenneth and his Kangundo counterpart Johnson Muthama started paying tax on their allowances two years ago following public uproar, after a proposal by then Finance Minister Amos Kimunya to include parliamentarians in the tax bracket met stiff resistance from the MPs.
Last week the MPs passed a proposal by the Parliamentary Service Commission to raise their salaries and allowances, attracting fresh public condemnation.
"Some of those proposals are completely ridiculous! How do you want to make members of some committees earn more than ministers?" Mr Kenneth posed. "It does not make sense!"
If the proposal is implemented, an MP\’s monthly pay (basic salary plus allowances) would increase to Sh1.2 million while the Speaker would earn Sh2.8 million up from Sh1.5 million according to the proposal tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister and Vice President would be the biggest beneficiaries and could earn hefty salaries amounting to Sh3.2 million and Sh2.7 million respectively following recommendations by the Parliamentary Service Commission.
The Commission\’s report proposed that the Speaker be entitled to a sitting allowance of Sh30,000 up from Sh10,000 while MPs will take home Sh10,000 up from Sh5,000 per session.
The new perks had originally been proposed by a tribunal that was headed by former Court of Appeal judge Akilano Akiwumi. The PSC however reviewed the Akiwumi proposal upwards.
The tribunal had recommended Sh2.9 million for the PM, Sh2.1 million for the Vice President, Sh2.1 million for the Speaker and Sh1.1 million for MPs. The legislators nonetheless agreed taxation of their transport, entertainment and responsibility allowances.
The PSC doubled the proposed payments on the basis of the effects of inflation, and the resolve to pay tax on some of their allowances followed public pressure.
"MPs must realise they are in parliament at the trust of the common mwananchi who is paying taxes and they must not take members of public for a ride," said Mr Kenneth.