NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – The move by Members of Parliament to have their salaries reviewed has received the backing of governors who are currently attending a seminar on the devolved system of government in Naivasha.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Meru counterpart Peter Munya stated since they had served in Parliament before, they were convinced that the current half a million shillings paid to MPs is too little for them.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) recently proposed to have MPs paid Sh532,500 down from Sh851,000 paid to lawmakers in the previous Parliament.
Oparanya said that the SRC should have implemented the Akiwumi report which proposed a monthly pay of Sh1.1 million for legislators.
“During President Moi’s regime legislators used to go to State House to beg the president for money. I see legislators reverting to this practice which is very wrong because MPs can be easily bought to back government agenda and it will make corruption rampant,” Oparanya warned.
On his part, Munya said MPs cannot be comfortable with what they will get and were likely to abandon their legislative work to seek survival means elsewhere.
“MPs may even not be able to pay staff or even buy them tea in the office. So you will find them running around doing other private businesses to meet their needs because what they earn cannot sustain them. So pay them well so that they can be able to do legislative work. That’s all we are asking,” Munya said.
On Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi revealed that the Parliamentary Service Commission was in talks with the SRC on the possibility of increasing MPs’ pay.
Muturi stated talks were ongoing to see if the salaries should be maintained or increased as per the legislators’ demands.
“In all fairness we should allow any negotiations that are happening go on and results will be made public at the appropriate time,” Muturi stated.
Some newly elected MPs have accused the remuneration commission of setting a salary regime that would put them in a compromising position by making them miserable.
The MPs said reducing their salaries to “as little as” Sh532,500 was unfair given their job description and that of other constitutional office holders, whose perks remained high.
The aggrieved legislators have threatened to disband the SRC and give its functions to another organ. Such a move, however, would not be easy as the SRC is anchored in the Constitution and its removal would require a constitutional amendment.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has however said the legislators would have to get a good excuse rather than pay cuts, to remove the commission.
In justifying the pay cut, the commission argued that Kenya’s public sector wage bill has almost doubled from Sh241 billion in 2008 to Sh458 billion in 2012.
Members of the public who were interviewed by Capital FM News expressed displeasure with the legislators’ intention.
“This is being self centred. They are playing with the minds of Kenyans. Sadly even the president has not been sworn in the office. This is being selfish and gluttonous,” Jessy Mwamburi a college student lamented.
Some urged the Members of Parliament to first offer their services to the country before raising the salary issue.
“No, this should not happen. They should first work before talking about increasing their salaries,” Josephat Muthoka a Nairobi businessman said.
Gideon Kimatia who referred himself as a ‘hustler’ said: “I support them because this will help reduce corruption.”
Kimatia argued that with a good salary, MPs will be able to work. “It is obvious we will feel the pinch because of paying more taxes.”
“The MPs accepted the job at the rate given. Discussions about salary should only commence once work has been done and their performance judged. If your work is to duly serve the people, you may want to do that first before talking about a pay raise. Accept the terms or resign if the pay is not substantial. Each Kenyan needs to write to ask their MP what they want to do. They either accept the terms or resign,” Patrick Wachira a banker said.