MPs have rushed through new Bills that will allow them to draw hefty pay increases from next month.
On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Service Commission — the body that determines their salaries — tabled a report in the House which the MPs ensured was debated and passed before the House adjourns on Thursday.
The report makes improvements on the proposals for a new pay package for MPs recommended by the Akiwumi Commission, with the new salaries and allowances backdated to May 2008, when the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers were appointed under the grand coalition arrangement.
It proposes to increase an MP’s monthly earnings from Sh851,000 to Sh1.1 million. In addition, the pay will now automatically go up by five per cent every year to cushion MPs against the rise in the cost of living. Former MPs earning a pension below Sh100,000 per month will have the amount increased to Sh100,000.
Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta is also directed to table the laws to effect the changes within seven days from the day Parliament adopts the report. In voting to adopt the report, MPs will be going against a tradition where salary reviews only affect the subsequent parliaments. For example, the current salaries were approved by the Eighth Parliament and affected the Ninth and Tenth Parliaments.
This review, however, targets the current (Tenth) Parliament. Said former Siakago MP Justin Muturi: “In keeping with the tradition and practice in both Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries, the current Parliament cannot increase their salaries. It is not just fair.” The MPs appear to be in a hurry to beat the trap in the proposed constitution which will take away the powers to increase their perks and hand it over to an independent Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
Also, in the proposed constitution, no law shall be made exempting any public official from paying tax. MPs have been enjoying huge tax-free perks, but the report will now see them pay income tax on salaries and taxable allowance at Sh227,861 every month.
But then the increased monthly salary compensates for the taxation and actually leaves each MP with an extra Sh12,000 per month. PSC vice-chairman Walter Nyambati tabled the report with amendments to the current laws, including new tax rebates for cash donations made by MPs.
In the Bill amending the National Assembly Remuneration Act, the PSC proposes a maternity leave allowance of Sh180,000 for every female MP and a paternity leave allowance of Sh30,000 per year for every male MP. The female MPs will be paid their maternity allowance at Sh60,000 per month for a maximum of three months.
MPs enjoying paternity or maternity leave allowance are not entitled to receive sitting allowance. The Bill also seeks to replace the Sh1.5 million gratuity for every five-year term — Sh300,000 for every year worked — with a figure of 20 per cent of the basic salary for every year worked.
This means that an MP will get Sh720,000 as “severance allowance” for every year worked. The amounts payable to MPs will vary because of differences in the responsibility allowances allocated to the other office holders in Parliament like the Speaker (Sh1.2 million for every year worked — Sh6 million after five years), Prime Minister, Vice-President and Leader of Government Business (Sh840,000 for every year worked — Sh4.2 million after five years).
If adopted, the Prime Minister will earn Sh3,246,000 per month, the Vice- President will pocket Sh2,796,000 per month, the Speaker Sh2,766,000, the Deputy Speaker Sh1,841,000 while the two Deputy Prime Ministers will each earn Sh1,891,000 per month. The PSC vice-chairman will earn Sh1,841,000 per month under the new schedule, a Cabinet minister Sh1,436,000 and assistant minister Sh1,341,000.