MPs were on Thursday united in their push to block the salaries commission from reducing their pay.
The lawmakers opposed the Salaries and Remuneration Commission decision to implement its report, which recommends a reduction of their pay and that of other State officials.
The MPs, speaking at the end of their induction in Nairobi, called for a return of their annual Sh5 million car grant, Sh5,000 allowance for every sitting and a comprehensive medical cover, which they want extended to those with more than one wife and children born out of wedlock.
Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala, a polygamist, was the first to raise the issue, arguing that the current MPs are poorly remunerated compared to those in the previous Houses.
He said it would be unfair to exclude other family members from the medical cover and other benefits.
“In the 10th Parliament, this House was covering our many wives and the children of these women and girlfriends. This cover must be brought back,” Mr Wanjala, who served as an MP for 10 years, said to the applause of his colleagues.
The report on the harmonisation of salaries, allowances and benefits of State officers approved by the SRC in its gazette notice of July 7, limits medical allowances of State and public officials to one spouse and four children below 25 years.
The report states that the children must be in local schools.
NEW SALARY SCHEME
In the new salary scheme, the lawmakers’ medical scheme provides Sh10 million inpatient cover per family, Sh300,000 for outpatient cover, Sh150,000 for maternity and Sh75,000 for dental care.
MPs Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini, Ford Kenya), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North, ODM) and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town, ODM) supported Mr Wanjala’s proposal.
Dr Wamalwa urged his colleagues to “guard jealously” matters that touch on their welfare.
“Let the politics of Nasa and Jubilee not separate us. We were very vocal about this issue in the last Parliament and whatever had been gazetted was degazetted. The Executive will not be happy when they see us going to the bank smiling,” he said.
He said the SRC decision to slash their salaries was unconstitutional, as the commission did not carry out public participation.
“This is the time to ensure our Sh5 million car grant is back,” he said.
Previously, the salaries of members of the National Assembly and Senate stood at Sh710, 000 with a progression calculated annually.
However, the SRC removed the annual progression rate and instead fixed their salaries at Sh621,250.
The commission also removed the car grant and sitting allowance.
It, however, retained the Sh7 million car loan and committee allowances for members.
The commission also reduced the salaries of Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly from Sh1.3 million to Sh1.2 million, while that of the Deputy Speakers was slashed from Sh1.05 million to Sh924,000.
Ms Odhiambo proposed that a kamukunji — an informal sitting of MPs chaired by the Speaker — be called to discuss the MPs’ welfare.
“Tyranny of numbers is good if you have them. Not even Uhuru and Raila will support our salaries to be increased. They are after the national interests. If we don’t have a forum for this issue, we will perish like fools. Remember over 200 MPs were voted out in the last elections,” said Ms Odhiambo.
Mr Kaluma faulted the current medical scheme, saying polygamy is permitted under the law and that it is unfair for one wife to benefit while others do not.
He said all lawful wives and children should be cared for.