MCAs threaten to halt services over Sh10,000 pay rise

Monday, June 19th, 2023 03:30 | By
SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich at a past event in Nairobi.
SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich at a past event in Nairobi. PHOTO/Courtesy

A confrontation is in the offing between Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) and Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) over proposed pay for the lawmakers.

While SRC has succumbed to pressure and awarded MCAs a pay increase of Sh10,000 each, the latter have turned down the offer and instead threatened to paralyse operations in counties should it not be improved.

Although the MCAs have since belittled the upward review of their earnings as a ‘meagre’ upgrade, SRC’s latest salaries review for public and State officers has improved income of the Ward Reps from the current Sh144,375 to Sh154,481, starting the next Financial Year that commences in July. The pay rise that will be instituted in two phases will see MCAs have their salaries increased every Financial Year. However, their sitting allowances will remain at Sh62,400.

Move to calm the MCA’s agitation comes days after they threatened to down their tools by paralysing critical plenary sessions and failing to approve county budgetary estimates until their wishes are satisfactorily addressed.

Chairperson County Assemblies Forum Philemon Sabulei yesterday told People Daily that SRC’s proposal is “simply a slap in the face of the Ward Reps.”

“That figure is in itself laughable. What is Sh10, 000 under the current economic downturn? If they don’t improve on this to give us a more considerate figure, we are going to paralyse all operations in all the 47 counties within the next one week,” Sabulei said yesterday.

Sabulei said that either SRC gives in to their proposals or readies itself for a major strike by the Ward Reps. But speaking during its presentation to County Public Service Boards on the third public service remuneration and benefits review cycle last week, SRC said it would not accept the MCA’s request to have a return of plenary sitting allowances.

SRC said the Ward Reps’s demands were unrealistic under the current economic environment.

Among other demands by the MCAs was to have their Sh 2 million car grant reinstated, establishment of Ward Development Fund of 40 per  cent of the county development budget and which should be anchored in law.

Ward Reps had also sought for introduction of county affirmative action for nominated MCAs alongside revocation of 30 per cent tax levied on their car reimbursements.

In their considerations, SRC, besides the salary increment also retained official transport, medical benefit, retirement benefit, car loan and mortgage benefit, security, group life insurance, group personal, accident, airtime, annual leave among other benefits for the county lawmakers.

Better remuneration

The announcement was made at a time  some county Assemblies such as Narok, Kericho, Tana River, Marsabit, Mandera, Embu, Kisii, West Pokot, Samburu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Makueni, Garissa, Kwale, Kajiado and  Kwale had already shut down signaling paralysis of activities in the respective devolved units.

Mandera County MCAs have since rejected proposals by SRC, saying plans to increase their monthly income by Sh10,000 is unfair and will continue to agitate for better remuneration similar to that of other elected leaders.

In the proposed gross remuneration, SRC has also increased the county Assembly Speaker’s gross pay from the current Sh525,525 to Sh562,312 from July 1.

 The pay is expected to move up to a gross of Sh 601,674 in the 2024-25 Financial  Year when the last phase will be implemented.

Deputy Speakers’ at the same time will enjoy more income after their salaries were increased from the current Sh216,563 to Sh231,722 in the next financial year before settling on Sh247,943 in the 2024-25 period.  The gross pay will, however, exclude the committee sitting allowance which has been capped at Sh62,400 for one committee a month.  This means that if a deputy speaker sits in at least two committees, then they will pocket a total gross monthly pay of Sh356, 5 22 from July 1 per an amount that will rise to Sh 372,743 in the 2024-25 financial year.

 Also, considered in the latest salaries review are Majority and Minority Leaders who will have their gross pay increase from Sh144,375 to Sh191,324 in the next financial year and Sh204,717 in the subsequent year.  They will also enjoy a committee sitting allowance of Sh62, 400 for one committee per month.

Last week, SRC increased the salaries of 47 county secretaries who are also the heads of County Public Service Boards by a whooping Sh 229, 250 per month.

A county secretary who has been earning Sh175,000 monthly will now be taking home Sh404,250 in the adjusted scale of their remuneration.

 Salary increase comes at a time when the country continues to struggle to contain ballooning public sector wage bills that have squeezed funds for development, forcing the state to borrow for financing capital projects and at some point, to facilitate recurrent expenditures.

 The country has maintained a moratorium on new employment in civil service that restricted hiring to essential sectors such as security, education and health in a bid to rein in the public wage bill.

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