NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 — Members of the Parliament have expressed diverse views on the President’s clarion call for support of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s recommendation that those elected in August take a pay and allowance cut.
National Assembly Minority Leader Francis Nyenze (Kitui West) led fellow MPs Johnson Sakaja (Nominated), Peter Mwangangi (Kathiani) and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar in welcoming the proposal aimed at capping the public wage bill which currently stands at Sh627 billion per year, amounting to 50 per cent of the total revenues collected by the government.
“I support the proposal but let it be something reasonable, so that we pay the security personnel, teachers and doctors something at par,” Nyenze said in his reaction to the President’s State of the Nation address to a joint special sitting of Parliament.
“There is a way in which MPs must now try to recast, the whole essence of leadership in representative politics, you must be judged by your participation in Parliament not how many funerals and harambees you attended,” Senator Omar said.
“As we go to the election, every public official should know that if you go for a certain seat, this is the amount of money you should expect to get in whatever elective position. You know last time people fought it because they were ambushed, but now you know before, and I think it is understandable, it cannot be 50 per cent,” Sakaja explained.
MPs Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri County Woman Representative), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni) and Robert Pukose (Endebess) argued they need high salaries to give handouts to poor constituents for school fees and hospital bills.
“Even as the salaries go down we will have to look at the welfare question and there might be need to have in place a welfare fund to address these welfare question,” Nyokabi noted.
Pukose added that Kenyans should be sensitised on the role of the elected leaders.
“We need to look at the public perception of some of these elected positions, such that people should look at it that somebody going for an elected position has a lot of money.”
Maanzo and Mwangangi said the government should be innovative and implement strategies that will simultaneously bring down the cost of living.
“We are in this situation because the public money is being mismanaged. Nobody in the whole world whose salary is slashed while working for the government, this will be the first case in the world,” Maanzo stated.
“It will be illogical for us to cut off all the wages and then the cost of living is up there; you’ll be creating another crisis,” Mwangangi noted.
However, Sirisia MP John Waluke opposed the proposal claiming it was unfairly targeting the legislators and said that MPs will also slash earnings of the Sarah Serem Commission and other independent office holders.
MPs in the 11th Parliament, who were elected on March 2013, wasted no time and in closing ranks and voted to overturn a directive that reduced their pay, hoping it would force the government to pay the higher salaries earned by those in the 10th Parliament.