The statistics on the earnings of Kenyan MPs is well known, and leads to the fact that they are among the highest paid in the world. In fact the subject of the MPs salaries is a sore one for many Kenyans. First, because MPs salary is high relative to the country’s/people’s economic situation. How do MPs earn as much as they do given the countries statistics on poverty, income inequality, and unemployment, seriously can we afford our MPs?
The second issue with MPs’ salary is that every Parliament increases the salary for the sitting members. For instance the 10th Parliament raised their salaries and benefits several times during their term, despite numerous protests from taxpayers, and at the end of their term attempted to pass a bill that would have allowed them an exorbitant send off package.
All this happened in the wake of the 2010 constitution which removed from the mandate of the parliament the setting of salaries for State officers and placed this responsibility in the hands of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). MPs blatantly ignored the protestations of the SRC and for a while it seemed that the SRC would suffer the same fate as some of the other independent commissions i.e. being sidelined by parliament.
As things stand the 10th Parliament has been dissolved and this seems to have created space for the SRC to act on what many Kenyans have known, that:
“The current wage bill is neither affordable nor sustainable. The country has far surpassed the fiscal and economic benchmarks such as fiscal sustainability,” SRC chairperson Sarah Serem.
In response to the ‘un-sustainability’ and ‘un-affordability’ of the current wage bill the SRC has made the following proposition: Lower the salaries of State Officers.
“The next President’s salary and allowance has been capped at a maximum Sh1.7 million a month, down from the current Sh2 million. The deputy president will earn between Sh1,115,625 and Sh1,487,500, down from Sh1.9 million while MPs and senators will take home between Sh555,696 and Sh740,927, down from the current Sh851,000. The figures include all allowances paid to the affected state officers.”
While the move to lower the salaries of State officers is laudable but is it enough?
Take for instance that MPs salaries may be cut down to Sh. 555, 696 down from Sh. 851,000 sounds like a grand saving. Until you crunch the numbers the last parliament had 210 members who all earned Sh851,000 in the new parliament there will be 300+ members (MPs, Women Reps,+ nominated members) each earning Sh555, 696 the saving is just more than 1 million shillings i.e. not that great.
Then include the salaries for governors and senators, wage expenses that didn’t exist before, and it appears that not much of a saving will be made. So while each individual re-elected MP may feel the effect of a lower salary, the effect of the lower salaries for State Officers on the tax payer seems negligible. Do salaries of State officers need to lower still?
The SRC say that the new wage cuts will result in savings of Sh500 million but the fact is the wage bill will remain pretty high so hopefully this is just the beginning of downward reviews of salaries of high ranking state officers. It should be noted that will the move by the SRC is certainly one in the right direction, it could all be undone. The new parliament will have to approve the SRC proposals, and if past history is any indication it is not good, the last parliament’s first order of business was to raise their salaries.
Be careful who you vote for because you will be paying their salary, even one better maybe we should be asking those running what their plan for the salaries of state officers is?