Thursday, March 21, 2013

MPs reject ‘demeaning’ salaries and vow to push for fresh review

Salaries and Remuneration Commission's Chairperson, Sarah Serem. Photo/FILE

Salaries and Remuneration Commission's Chairperson, Sarah Serem. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ISAAC ONGIRI iongiri@ke.nationmedia.com

Newly-elected MPs who are coming to terms with realities of the recent pay cuts for legislators have started agitating for higher pay.

Expecting to earn the nearly Sh1 million pay per month enjoyed by MPs in the last Parliament, lawmakers now realise that their salary has been reduced to Sh532,500 a month.

Extreme pay cuts for new members by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission has now sparked fresh salary review demands as new legislators claim the rates are demeaning.

Four MPs-elect on Wednesday accused the SRC of setting a salary regime that would put MPs in a compromising position and make them miserable personalities and said they would lead demands for fresh negotiations on salaries and allowances payable to MPs and other elected leaders.

Mr Njoroge Baiyia (Githunguri), Mr Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), Mr Oyugi Magwanga (Kasipul) and Mr Johanna Ng’eno (Emurwa Dikkir ) told the Nation that reducing MPs salaries to as little as Sh532,500 was unfair given their job description and that of other constitutional office holders, whose perks remained high.

Job description

Besides cutting MPs’ pay, the previous privilege that gave them access to a Sh3.3 million grant to buy a new car every parliamentary term has also been replaced by a new scheme where the legislators will be allowed access to a Sh7 million loan to be repaid within their five-year term.

“It is unfortunate that the SRC had to take this route. We are going to demand for a fresh review of all this. Even though we agree that the previous salary needed to be scaled down, it was important that several factors and job description of an MP be considered in achieving that,” Mr Chanzu said.

He warned that most MPs, both first-timers and those who were re-elected, were disappointed and called on the SRC to be ready for further review to avoid being seen as belittling the work of parliamentarians.

As set, MPs in the 11th Parliament could take home Sh250,000 after deductions compared to their colleagues in the 10th Parliament, who took home close to Sh650,000 after statutory deductions.

New MPs are more likely to suffer compared to their re-elected colleagues, who are a bit more established and may avoid unnecessary financial commitments.

Mr Ng’eno, who will represent the newly created Emurwa Dikkir constituency, called for better pay for MPs, saying, the area has no roads and has chronic poverty levels.

“In Emurwa Dikkir, the only permanent house is a school house assigned to the Emurwa Dikkir High School principal,” Mr Ng’eno said, adding that his workload would be huge.

Mr Baiyia accused the SRC of playing to the gallery by “abnormally” scaling down MPs salaries. He said that the over 400 members of the national assembly and the senate would demand a review of salaries for all elected leaders.

Said Mr Baiyia: “What the SRC did has turned the work of elected leaders into a joke. We all agree that reviewing the salaries and introducing taxes was important, but what they have come up with is an insult.”

Mr Magwanga said MPs were not amused by the new development and that they would be registering their displeasure to the commission after next week’s swearing-in.

“We had so many people resigning to seek elective positions even at the county level. We have doctors, lawyers, high school teachers and people from other professions who resigned to contest elective seats.

“It is sad that he SRC has decided to punish the political class while keeping salaries for other constitutional officers high without evaluating the workload involved. It may be too bad for them at last,” he warned without elaborating.

The SRC in new salary scales published last week increased mortgage entitlements for MPs to Sh20 million payable at an annual interest rate of three per cent, but the burden would further lower MPs’ take-home.

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