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New pay increase takes MPs’ salary to Sh1.33m

Members of Parliament are set to get yet another pay increase, which will see each of them earn Sh1.33 million per month or 25 times higher than Kenya’s average salary beginning June.

Official budget documents show that the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), the MPs’ employer, has increased the National Assembly’s salary budget to Sh5.6 billion in the next financial year, up from Sh5.4 billion in the current year ending June.

The National Assembly has 350 MPs, meaning each of them will pocket Sh16 million annually – equivalent to Sh1.33 a month or a 3.1 per cent pay rise.

The pay raise cements their status as super earners in a country beset by high poverty and unemployment levels.

Each lawmaker’s current pay, the total of basic salary plus personal allowances, stands at Sh15.4 million a year or Sh1.28 million monthly.

The figure, however, excludes the legislators’ hefty travel budget, which averages Sh591,000 per month.

OVERPAID

“I think this is unjustifiably too high a burden for taxpayers,” said Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs, citing development and welfare projects that need funding to uplift the poor.

At Sh1.33 million, the MPs’ monthly pay is 25 times more than the country’s average monthly salary of Sh53,736, as per the latest Economic Survey data.

Most Kenyans view their MPs as overpaid, with nearly zero corresponding benefits to the population’s well-being.

The MPs have, however, argued that they need high salaries to support poor constituents who often reach out to them for their welfare needs, including school fees and hospital bills.

The pay increase once again sets the lawmakers on a collision path with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), which sets the pay for all public servants, and runs against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent announcement of intention to cut their pay.

The 2010 Constitution stripped Parliament of powers to determine their own pay and transferred that mandate to the SRC.

In 2013, the first year of their term, the MPs unsuccessfully pushed the SRC to maintain their salaries at the level of the previous Parliament.

PAY CUT

They finally accepted a 37 per cent pay cut, the first one for MPs, after public protests. This pulled their pay cheque to a minimum of Sh532,500 monthly but only after getting a tax-free car grant, pensions and extra allowances in exchange.

MPs enjoy multiple perks like sitting and travel allowances, pushing their monthly take-home to just over Sh1 million.

The SRC early this month embarked on a pay review for public officials in an effort to narrow recurrent expenditure and free up cash for development projects needed to rev up growth and jobs creation.

Mr Kenyatta last month told Kenyans that the SRC had shared a report calling for lower salaries for State officers and elected officials, from an MCA to the President.

Kenya’s wage bill stands at Sh627 billion annually, equivalent to nearly 50 per cent of tax collections.

Lawmakers have more recently become notorious for arm-twisting the Treasury and the SRC to line their pockets with fat pay cheques and perks.

Besides their fat salaries, MPs are entitled to a Sh5 million car grant, Sh20 million mortgage and a Sh7 million car loan.
Senators have also been lined up for a two per cent pay hike.