Members of parliament are seeking 18 billion shillings for their budget in the next financial year. Ostensibly the amount, that is more than double what the MPs requested for the current financial year, is to cover the cost of the cost of the new Parliament which will have almost double the number of MPs. However the fine print of the budget document tabled by the Parliamentary Service Committee Chair, Dujis MP Aden Duale, reveals something that is both alarming and disturbing.
According to a report in the Daily Nation, “the legislators want the Treasury to set aside a Kshs. 500 million [of the 18.1 billion] to cover taxes of the MPs of the tenth parliament (the current one) between July 1st when the financial year began and January 15, 2013 when the term of the Tenth Parliament expires. The Kshs. 500 million will bring the total tax bill that taxpayers foot for MPs to Kshs. 2.5 billion. The MPs tax bill has been accumulating since August 27, 2010, when the new constitution was promulgated.”
The request for the Kshs. 500million to cover the cost of MPs taxes comes on the heels of the legislators assent to amend the National Assembly Remuneration Act to allow MPs to accrue Kshs. 3.72 million each as gratuity at the end of the term of the current parliament.
From the dexterity with which the members of parliament have managed to collate their individual tax bills and pass this on to the taxpayer, it would appear that both the meaning of tax and how it works is either completely lost on or being purposely disregarded by MPs; who are not only amongst the highest paid MPs in the world but have enjoyed tax free salaries and benefits from 1975 until 2010 when the constitution made it law for all State Officers to pay taxes.
It is clear from the recent actions of the MPs of the tenth parliament that if policy or law is poorly executed through a failure of leadership it is as good useless. In our system of government MPs are meant to be our representatives and they are meant to represent our views and our interest. But from their recent actions it would be fair to ask whose interests the members of the parliament working in? It would be interesting to see the response of Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the body that was created to meet the overwhelming demand by Kenyans for an independent body to set the salaries of State officers?