MPs vs. the Salaries and Remuneration Commission: Does Your MP Deserve a Higher Salary?

Posted by on 3rd May 2013

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MPs have and never had an easy relationship with the independent commissions. In the last administration we saw members of parliament continually butt heads with both the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution. It seems that in the new Parliament the battle between the MPs and the independent commissions’ rages on, this time between Parliamentarians and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission over the MPs Salaries.

Before the election the Salaries and Remuneration Commission revised the salaries of the new Members of the National Assembly downwards. And it seems that for most of the period since the new Members were sworn in they have been fighting to get a salaries raised to the previous levels i.e. that of some of the highest paid MPs in the world.

In making a case for increased salary on the floor of the house the MP for Kitutu Chache North Jimmy Angwenyi argued that Article 160 of the constitution prevents the SRC from reviewing salaries of the MPs downward stating, “we [MPs] are being bashed left, right and centre by everybody that we are seeking increment of our salaries. You know and everybody reasonable knows that we are not seeking an increase in our salaries. We are only saying that let us maintain our salaries at the level that was obtaining in the last Parliament until the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) brings a legal order to change our salaries and, in fact, not to change it adversely against us. This is because the Constitution forbids that. Now, Article 160 of the Constitution states clearly that you cannot adjust the salary of a State officer to his or her disadvantage.”

Actually Article 160 of the constitution is quite specific to judiciary and states specifically “the remuneration and benefits payable to, or in respect of, a judge shall not be varied to the disadvantage of that judge, and the retirement benefits of a retired judge shall not be varied to the disadvantage of the retired judge during the lifetime of that retired judge.” The Article on construction and intention does not apply to all State Officers.

Another member Kamama Asman Abongotum made the argument that Salaries can never be adjusted downward stating that better remunerated MPs would do a better job, “Salaries all over the world can never be on a downward trajectory. They are always on an upward trajectory unless you are in a failed state like Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. Since Kenya has a stable economy, let us not joke about performance. Let us pay Members of Parliament very well, so that they can deliver up to midnight, just the way we delivered in the last Parliament. Looking at the current remuneration package for Members of Parliament, one realises that the members of staff of this Assembly have better terms than parliamentarians. We want them to have those better terms but we want parliamentarians to be given their rightful share as enshrined in the Constitution and as recommended by the Akiwumi Commission and the Cocker Commission.”

Not surprisingly no MP has made the argument for accepting the SRC’s new salary scale for MPs. If the MPs got their salaries returned to the level paid the former house they would receive almost Sh1 million per month. One could quibble about the  xact shilling amount that MPs should earn however the bigger question is do the MPs deserve to have a higher salary that the SRC prescribed basic salary of Sh532,500 per month?

Thoughts?

2 Comments

  • by W M Onsongo on 4th May 2013

    I think that the MPs should not be allowed to set their salary. The SRC was set up to curb the excesses of the MPs who awarded themselves high salaries and allowances in the past with impunity. There virtually was no opposition in Parliament on this issue just as we have seen recently. Our economy is in problems with a large deficit partly due to the bloated wage bill triggered by the greed of MPs. Unionized workers countrywide demanded higher salaries which they justified unlike the MPs. However, the majority of Kenyans have been left to struggle to make ends meet. The argument that we should give MPs more money so they can give handouts to poor mwananchi is repugnant. The SRC took the right action to bring down the high salaries paid to MPs in harmony with the rest of the Civil Servants. As much money as possible should be made available to the Counties to initiate projects that can help alleviate the existing crushing poverty. MPs do not deserve a higher salary!!

  • by Erick Matsanza on 5th May 2013

    On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Kenya ni Kwetu will lead a procession of peaceful demonstrators to Parliament to protest against Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) recent decision to award the MPs’ a tax-free grant of Sh5 million each for the purchase of vehicles, as well as the ongoing negotiation between SRC and legislators to have the latter’s salaries increased. We are deeply concerned and disappointed that at a time when Kenyans are looking for a break from the past, legislators drawn from both houses of Parliament are hell-bent on increasing their salaries through threats and arm-twisting tactics that go against the constitutional standards of behaviour demanded of both public and state officers. The timing and show of collective greed is in total disregard of the values and principles of the constitution regarding the management of and the governance over public resources as enshrined in Articles 1, 2, 10, 73, 74, 75, 94, 95, 96, 116, 201, 206 and 230. Members of the National Assembly have in the past (2008 -2012) been paid a monthly pay and allowances totalling Ksh851, 000, which has been over 425 times higher than the average (per capita) income of Kenyans and over 210 times higher than the minimum wage of Kshs. 4,050 as at December 2012. If they earn the minimum proposed, each Member of the National Assembly will earn from taxpayers over Kshs. 6.3 million annually and over Kshs. 31 million in the five years they will be in office. Even with the current salary scheme, the cost to the Kenyan tax-payer is astronomical. In total, all the 349 members of the National Assembly will in five years cost Kenyans over Kshs. 11 billion in salaries and allowances only.Join this event http://www.facebook.com/events/358217317613270/