, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Members of Parliament have devised a new ploy to arm-twist the government into paying them higher salaries, with threats to cut the pay of other State officers including President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Chief Justice.
A group of seven MPs met on Thursday to strategise how they can push their pay agenda by, among other manoeuvres, slashing the budgetary allocation to constitutional commissions by 43 percent, reducing VAT and exempt Kenyans earning below Sh50,000 from tax.
Among those in the meeting were Majority Coalition Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township), Deputy Minority Coalition Leader Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) and Majority Coalition chief whip Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South).
The MPs said they will go for a 57 percent cut to the salaries of the President, the Deputy President, Judges and other constitutional commissioners by 57 percent.
Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi, Suba MP John Mbadi, Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi and Fafi MP Bare Shill said they will begin the process next Tuesday when parliamentary committees submit their sectoral budget proposals to the Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“Parliament has gotten a wakeup call, we realised we can easily reduce so many things. And why shouldn’t we do it?” he posed. “If you can easily reduce the salaries of MPs by 57 percent; why don’t we do it across the board; why don’t we reduce the budget of commissions, why don’t we reduce even taxation?”
The move by MPs is likely to starve the Jubilee Coalition government of the much needed revenue to fund key programmes in its manifesto.
President Kenyatta had on Wednesday reprimanded MPs for demanding a pay-hike, and pledged that “State officers in the Executive would stick to the package set by the Serem Commission.”
SRC chairman Sarah Serem and Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution Chairman Charles Nyachae warned the National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi and the Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye that they could be held responsible for “abuse of office and aiding the misuse of public funds” if they pay MPs salaries above the Sh532,000 set by the SRC.
But Fafi MP Bare Shill scoffed at the threats saying ‘those living in glass houses should not throw stones’, while his Suba counterpart, John Mbadi accused both the presidency and the commission of disrespecting and threatening Parliament.
“We want to call upon institutions including independent commissions – even the Head of State – to recognise and appreciate that Parliament is an institution that is recognised in the Constitution and should be respected,” the Suba MP said.
Linturi, who initiated the process of disbanding the SRC team, termed as wishful thinking Serem’s threats to sue anybody who pays MPs.
The four MPs insisted that Parliament had acted within its legal mandate when it declared the gazette notice that slashed their salaries illegal and dared anyone including the Attorney General to move to court to seek a constitutional interpretation.
“We don’t want a situation whereby officers of Parliament are given ultimatums or are being threatened by busy bodies, people that they don’t report to; people that cannot in anyway sort a problem if there is any between the PSC and any office of Parliament.”