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Inside Politics

MPs push salaries team to raise pay after polls

Thursday, May 12th, 2022 01:00 | By
Parliament in session PHOTO/Courtesy

Members of Parliament who will be elected in the August 9 polls are set to earn in excess of Sh1 million per month if proposals by current legislators to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) sail through.

The MPs, in an informal session known as kamukunji, pushed for increased salaries and enhanced allowances for attending committee sessions in addition to retaining their current allowances for attending sessions in the chamber of the National Assembly. They vowed not to surrender their Sh5,000 sitting allowance, which they earn whenever they attend parliamentary sessions.

The SRC, in proposals to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) had recommended scraping of the sitting allowance.

However, lawmakers yesterday demanded their salaries be at par with those of Court of Appeal judges, who earn a maximum of Sh1,156,108 and a house allowance of Sh400,000.

“While we are on the same scale as Judges of Court of Appeal, they enjoy house allowances while we get a mortgage. We should benefit like others in the same job group,” said a member who attended the kamukunji but sought anonymity.

SRC has proposed to increase an MP’s salary from the current Sh621,250 to Sh710,000, which would see taxpayers fork out an extra than Sh785 million annually to pay salaries for all legislators.

Increased allowances

The commission further proposes an increase in allowances paid to MPs for attending committee sessions to be increased from the current Sh5,000 to Sh7,500 for ordinary members and Sh10,000 for chairpersons. It also propose that sitting allowances for attending the Tuesday to Thursday parliamentary sessions be scrapped.

SRC bases its proposals on grounds that legislation work has shifted from the floor of the House to the committees, hence the need to increase sitting allowance for committee sessions while scraping the Sh5,000 allowance for parliamentary sessions.

However, during yesterday’s session chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi, MPs were adamant that SRC must raise their salaries to the same level as that of the appellate judges. “We made it clear to them (Parliamentary Service Commission members) that our salary must be enhanced to match that earned by judges of the Court of Appeal. Members felt that PSC was not doing enough to agitate for our rights during its meetings with the SRC,” said another MP.

Others are said to have told Muturi to his face that the PSC, which he chairs, was in bed with the Salaries Commission since PSC had failed to defend their demand to earn sitting allowances whenever they attend parliamentary sessions.

The latest push by MPs comes after the Court of Appeal last year issued orders that the PSC recovers Sh2.7 billion in “illegal” house allowances earned by MPs. PSC has since complied with the court directives and the money recovered.

Yesterday’s three hours meeting also delved into the issue of  hiring of the Clerk of the National Assembly and whether the holder of that office can be picked from the Senate.

PSC is divided over whether to pick a new clerk from the Senate while there were applicants from the National Assembly.

The current clerk, Michael Sialai, is due to retire in July upon attainment of retirement age. He has since been appointed Kenya’s High Commissioner to Namibia.

Mileage allowance

Another contentious issue - mileage allowances, especially for MPs representing constituencies in the capital - was also discussed but was not concluded and the commission was mandated to look for an amicable solution.

Muturi had on Tuesday convened the meeting following requests from members, led by Ugenya MP David Ochieng, who wanted to deliberate on issues affecting them with only three weeks before the life of the current Parliament comes to an end.

“We are aware that  members of the PSC, whom we elected, are negotiating with SRC on terms of service that include raising the commissioners’ allowances; what they earn and how they will be in the next Parliament,” Ochieng’ said when he raised the issue. “At the same time, they are negotiating how to reduce our allowances. I am  aware that they are negotiating to remove the sitting allowance of the Members of Parliament in the next Parliament and reduce the allowances that we earn when we travel abroad”.

Unmoved by the outcry from the general public, the MPs want to further amend the Parliamentary Pension’s Act to ensure they will continue enjoying full medical cover even after they are voted out of office.

The MPs argue that most ex-legislators are suffering under the heavy cost of medical expenses and there is need to ensure they are covered. If the proposal is adopted the MPs and their spouses will retain a medical scheme of Sh10 million for the inpatient cover per family, Sh300,000 for the outpatient cover, Sh150,000 for maternity and Ksh75,000 for dental care.

Already, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the National Treasury are opposed to the pension bid.

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