Kenyans are yet again facing fresh catalogue of demands to improve perks for MPs. We have been naive to assume that pragmatism would dictate any review of public officers’ remuneration structures to ease the pressure on the economy and the burden on taxpayer.
It is critical that Kenyans stop glossing over a couple of issues; whether the current structures are adding legislative and representative value and if MPs are responsive to voters concerns and living up to their expectations.
Several MPs yesterday justified demands for enhanced earnings, citing endless demands by constituents for funerals, hospital bills, rent and school fees, among others. Truth is, there will never be emoluments that MPs will consider sufficient to satisfy the handouts culture. Spending on constituents as excuse for extortion is illogical.
Let’s put the earnings issue into context: The United States’ 425-member House of Representatives and 100 member Senate serving a population of about 320 million Americans and earning on average $174,000 dollars (Sh17.4 million) per year with Kenya’s 416 legislators serving 48 million and on average earning basic pay of Sh6.4m annually minus a catalogue of allowances which all translates to emoluments of over Sh1m per month.
Considering that the US economy is $16.7 trillion while Kenya’s $55.2 billion dollars with minimum wage a pitiful Sh14,000 per month, clearly a roadmap to curtail the criminal pampering of elected leaders must be found.
Kenyans must embrace Third Alliance’s Ekuru Aukot proposals that MPs be reduced to 147 with pay capped at Sh500,000 for the President and Sh300,000 for legislators, but with escalated county allocation.
The call for fewer legislators is not necessarily at variance with the right to fair representation. What should be of critical concern is the sustainability of the current expenditures weighed against growth rates and development goals. The surplus to requirement representation cannot be equated to legislative quality and representational efficacy.
Legislators rapacious tendencies, especially when it comes to allowances must end. If the legislators can not be bound by the Act creating a statutory authority namely the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, then it should be scrapped. Hiding behind the High Court ruling and Parliamentary Service Commission to commit fiscal carnage must be rejected.