Kenyan MPs block recess over pay deal

July 8, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Members of Parliament have for the third time in less than a week refused to go on recess until their hefty salary hike is approved.

The MPs frustrated efforts by the government to have them take a break after the adjournment Motion failed to get a seconder.

Most MPs on the government side walked out of the Chamber immediately after question time leaving only Assistant Ministers Joseph Nkaiserry and Beatrice Kones.

Earlier during an informal meeting (Kamukunji) at Parliament Buildings, the defiant MPs told Speaker Kenneth Marende to his face that they would not take a break until they debate and pass a Bill proposing the new perks.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who attended the Thursday meeting is said to have stood his ground and told the legislators that the Treasury did not have money to pay them higher salaries.

Mr Kenyatta asked the MPs to go slow on the issue and re-look at the recommendations of the Akiwumi Commission that proposed the hefty pay increment. 

The Speaker\’s Kamukunji was called to deliberate the adjournment Motion and the proposed salaries.

Capital News has since learnt that the members were adamant that they would not go on recess until the Bills seeking to legalise the pay hikes are tabled, debated and passed in Parliament.  

Already among the best-paid in the world, a majority of the MPs say the fact their salaries are about to be taxed justifies the increase.

The MPs were first meant to take a one month break on Thursday last week to give them time to campaign ahead of the August 4 referendum. 

If Parliament goes on recess before the Bills are passed, and the Constitution passes in next month\’s referendum, chances of MPs getting the pay hike will be nil since lawmakers\’ pay will be determined by an independent commission.

Speaking earlier, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta had exuded confidence that MPs would not shoot down the Finance Bill despite failure by government to implement their salary pay proposal.

Mr Kenyatta said the legislators were under obligation to pass the Finance Bill so that the government can have the legal mandate to draw funds to run its operations. 

"We are engaging Parliament with an idea of getting an amicable solution.  We will be able to find a solution that will be acceptable to all Kenyans and a way forward that will allow us to move on with government business without hurting anyone," he said.

Capital News has further learnt that the plan to frustrate government Bills on the floor of the House if the Bills to legalise their increment are not be tabled is not limited to the backbench MPs but has now drawn in members of the Cabinet.


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