, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – An audit report on the social economic impact of the implementation of the Constitution on the economy has recommended the number of MPs and Members of the County Assembly reduced.
A report which was commissioned by National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee and conducted by Auditor-General Edward Ouko, has called for a review of the system of representation.
The audit unveiled on Thursday found that Kenyans are over-represented. Kenya has more representatives (number of MPs, Senators and MCAs) compared with countries with similar population and size of economy.
“Kenya has over 2,600 representatives. This is a ratio of about one representative to about 16,000 Kenyans. This is raising questions as to whether Kenyans are over-represented. If one looks at both the county and national levels, then there is need to recognize the sentiments about overrepresentation,” Ouko said in the report.
The current Parliament translates to an average of 120,000 constituents per MP and 100,500 including the Senate. This is lower than the global average of 146,000 constituents per MP, but higher than the African average of 83,450 per MP.
The number of MPs and Senators alone is above the global average.
Kenyan representatives are also some of the most highly paid MPs and MCAs in the world. They are paid even more than representatives in some of the advanced economies.
The report says the number of MPs and MCAs is attributable to the electoral system of “First-Past-the-Post’. The numbers will continue to grow over time if Kenya continues to use this electoral system.
There are 47 County Assemblies with 2,526 Members of County Assemblies, both elected and nominated.
There are concerns regarding the cost implications of the expansion of Parliament from a single Chamber with 222 members, including nominated members, to a bi-cameral Parliament with 418 members (Senators and National Assembly Members).
The view that the earnings of Members of Parliament are exorbitant and out of proportion with the country’s means motivates this thinking. In addition, there is the observation that Members of the County Assemblies also earn exorbitant wages far more than the economy can afford.
The global norm corresponds to a Parliament of 290, on average, and the African average of 500 members.
In order for the country to realise the two-thirds gender principle, Ouko suggests that in the long term, Kenya should consider adopting either a pure Proportional Representation system or a Mixed Member Proportional Representation System in order to allow all groups equitable chance of representation.
He argues the current electoral system results in exclusion of certain groups, particularly those who do not support the winning individual but the proposed options will strengthen the institution of political parties and provide equal opportunities for all groups to be represented.
This proposal will also allow for adequate and effective representation of ‘Special Interests’ than is the case at present.
The report which has been tabled in the House, found that the number of counties and the cost of running them are manageable.
“The county governments perform better in meeting the 30 percent development budget requirement than the national government. Some of them allocate even more than 30 percent of their total budget for development budget. Increase in fiscal deficit characterized the first two years of implementation of devolution. Without doubt, however, fiscal deficit featured in the pre-devolution period too, except that the post-devolution share has been higher” read the report.
Ouko said that wastage of funds by county governments has created the impression that devolution is expensive.
The formation of the 11 member working group was approved by the National Assembly in February 2014 to provide the MPs with the necessary information and analysis on potential measures that could better enhance prudent management of the country’s public resources.