KURIA: Let us tackle the burden of over-representation - Daily Nation

Let us tackle the burden of over-representation

Saturday December 5 2015

Former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete during his past address before a joint Parliament on October 6, 2015, at Parliament Buildings. Kenya has three legislative layers: Members of County Assembly (MCAs), Members of Parliament from the National Assembly and those from the Senate. PHOTO | GERALD ANDERSON | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete during his past address before a joint Parliament on October 6, 2015, at Parliament Buildings. Kenya has three legislative layers: Members of County Assembly (MCAs), Members of Parliament from the National Assembly and those from the Senate. PHOTO | GERALD ANDERSON | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MOSES KURIA
More by this Author

In Kenya today we have three legislative layers and two executive layers.

On the legislative layer we have Members of County Assembly (MCAs), Members of Parliament from the National Assembly and those from the Senate.

On the Executive layer we have the Governors and the Presidency, complete with their Cabinets.

The Presidency executes its mandate through 20 Cabinet Secretaries and 40-odd Principal Secretaries while the county governments are headed by 47 governors, 470 County Executives and close to 1,500 Chief Officers.

For a country of 42 million people and a GDP of $71 billion, Kenya is clearly over represented.

Contrast this with India. With a population of 1.2 billion people and a GDP of $2,050 billion, India has 548 members of the Lok Sabha, the equivalent of our Parliament.

Kenya has 62 Senators and 348 Members of the National Assembly making it a total of 410 MPs.

The State of California in the US, with a comparable population of 38 million people, has one governor and two senators.

The GSP (Gross State Product) of California is a whopping $2,396 billion.

With our measly $71 billion in GDP we have 47 counties and 62 senators!

Let us take a cursory look at the county assemblies.

We have 1,450 wards in the country, which is a remarkable reduction from the more than 3,000 councillors we had under the old constitution.

Then we went ahead to spoil the party.

In the name of affirmative action, we added another nominated 900 MCAs.

BEING ECONOMICAL

On average, an MCA takes home Sh250,000 in salary and an equivalent in all forms of allowances, making direct costs of Sh500,000 in direct remuneration.

Never mind that by January 2013 the lowest paid councillor countrywide was from Mandera with a take-home salary of Sh30,000 while the highest paid was from Nairobi with close to Sh80,000.

The employer who used to pay Sh30,000 is Wanjiku.

The one paying Sh500,000 is the same Wanjiku.

Can Wanjiku produce empirical evidence to support an argument that her fortunes have improved 16-fold so as to be in a position to pay a councillor, now christened MCA, 16 times the 2013 salary?

The total cost of maintaining an MCA is Sh1 million if you combine direct remuneration and other costs including workshops.

With 900 nominated MCAs this translates to Sh11 billion a year.

If we did not have nominated MCAs, within the term of the 11th Parliament, we could have saved enough to build an equivalent of Thika superhighway, give laptops to every Standard One pupil and give teachers the 18 billion pay rise they are seeking to keep our children in school.

The budget of the Parliamentary Service Commission is Sh28 billion.

If we reduce the size of our parliament to 200 by removing the 12 nominated members of the National Assembly, 47 women representatives and 62 senators and reducing the single member constituencies by 90, we could easily half that budget and save Wanjiku Sh14 billion.

Now what if we strengthen the internal controls and fill up the gaping holes exposed by the EACC report? We could easily save W