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MPs unity in quest for higher pay betrays their insensitivity

By The Standard | Published Thu, December 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 6th 2017 at 20:29 GMT +3

It should raise eyebrows when two men who hardly see eye to eye unite to push an agenda. Quite surprisingly, the Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale and his minority counterpart John Mbadi have had a union of minds.

And not for anything that promotes the common good like healing the tribal rifts after a bitterly fought general election. No, it is for lining the pockets of their colleagues. And therein lies the rub.

Changing the Parliamentary Standing Orders to increase the size and number of departmental and select committees is a ploy to raise their salaries and emoluments through the back door. It is insensitive and dishonest.

It is meant to get as many of their colleagues on the gravy train as possible when many Kenyans can hardly get by due to the economic hardship.

When history is written, the serial agitation for not just better terms, but astronomical pay rises and a pampered lifestyle in the public sector can be traced to Members of Parliament.

Picture this; before the Sarah Serem-led Salaries and Remuneration Commission set the ceiling on what MPs’ take-home pay and allowances and privilege ought to be, a Kenyan MP was entitled to a Sh710,000 salary, a handsome sitting and travel allowance that pushed their salary to over a million shillings (one of the highest in the world), a Sh5million car grant, a Sh20 million mortgage and an unlimited medical and life insurance.

And rather than be the servants of the people, an MPs’ job became a deal-making and money-minting business. No wonder the cut-throat competition for political office.

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The excuse that the MPs needed so much money because they are the constituency chief fundraisers does not wash any more, with the Constituency Development Fund providing money for constituency projects. Moreover, the rolling out of devolution has made their role peripheral and as such, a lower salary is sufficient.

In August, President Uhuru Kenyatta told MPs they would not live off the sweat of Kenyans anymore. “Everybody knew their salaries before they sought election and these leaders need to know that anyone who is called to serve should recognise we are called to serve people not hurt them.”

Besides promising not to sign a Bill to contest the SRC recommendations, President Kenyatta needs to stand up to the MPs.

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