MPs must avoid perks increment

Monday, August 29th, 2022 04:46 | By
Kenyan Parliament in session. PHOTO/Courtesy
Kenyan Parliament in session. PHOTO/Courtesy

Even before they are sworn in, Members of the National Assembly have indicated that they intend to reinstate the sitting allowances that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) removed last month.

By so doing, they are sending the wrong signals to voters, who are already faced with a high cost of living and whose taxes are being used to sustain the high wage bill of State and public officers. Should they make the mistake of increasing their perks, MPs will, without a doubt, lose the goodwill of citizens. It is, therefore, in their best interest to accept the decision of the SRC and forge ahead because the pay and perks were determined before the elections.

As such, even as MPs were going to the ballot as candidates, they knew very well what to expect in terms of pay and perks. Kenya has been spending way too much money paying salaries and allowances for government employees.

SRC has consistently warned that this is not sustainable in the long term, especially because the bulk of tax collection is being used to repay debts. This was what informed SRC’s decision and it would be advisable for MPs to understand and internalise this so that they can become part of the solution, rather than the problem.

At any rate, no other group of employees – except legislators – has the power to set their own salaries. This is a huge responsibility that MPs have and they ought to be cautious not to abuse it, lest they suffer at the ballot box like their predecessors.

The lawmakers should also bear in mind that government ministries, departments and agencies have been spending a very small fraction of their allocations on development projects. Yet, this is the only avenue through which citizens benefit. However, when salaries and wages gobble large amounts of government revenue, the benefits for citizens are reduced. This is what MPs need to understand, and the fact that 390 people should not be seen to be benefitting unfairly at the expense of 48 million Kenyans.

If MPs wages are maintained as recommended by SRC, this will also help to reduce inflation. It will also help MPs to focus on their core duties, which is to pass public interest laws. Among those laws should be for health insurance that works for all, so that MPs can spend less of their personal income on harambees for ailing constituents.

They should also increase capitation for learners, so that the quality of education can be improved and there will be less need for education harambees. We advise them to fix systems, rather than increase their pay so that they can be giving hand-outs.

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