MPs wrong in bid to get taxpayer foot bill for their lavish lifestyles

Coming at a time when many Kenyans are staring at job losses as companies cut back on operational costs, many must have received with utter indignation, reports that Members of Parliament are planning to line their pockets with another tax-funded allowance.

The plot to earn Sh250,000 (about Sh900 million in a year for all the 416 members) as housing allowances- on top of sitting and travelling allowance- is dishonest and insensitive. It should be stopped. It is also deceitful- the MPs already have a Sh20 million mortgage at 3 per cent.

The latest scheme follows several others. Last week they sought to have an annual 7.5 per cent salary raise. Before then, they had sought medical insurance for those with at least two wives and concubines; to plotting for a fat severance pay on top of an entitled pension when their terms end; to a car grant and a travelling and fuel allowance; to payment for domestic workers; to a tax-funded security convoy. Kenyans have had it.

Should they have their way, the MPs will rank as some of the highest earning in the world, beating even those sitting in the US Congress or the Bundestag or the House of Commons- parliaments from three of the world’s most industrialised countries. With a GDP of $98.264 billion making it the 65th largest economy in the world, Kenya’s GDP is 250 times smaller than that of the Britain.

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We could say that considering the age of those democracies, there is comparatively less work to be done by those MPs than our MPs. Though valid, that is neither here nor there because on average, most Kenyan MPs legislate less and politic more.

A lot of the MPs have not grasped their role, often choosing to do the Executive’s bidding. Indeed, Kenyans’ disappointment with the Legislature is borne of the fact that it has been partisan, selfish about their welfare but most of the time, pliant; often at the beck and call of the Executive. Considering even the level of debate in the chambers even on critical issues like the Budget, Kenyans will be forgiven to think they shortchanged themselves.

With piling debt (estimated to hit Sh6 trillion in 2019), until recently, no a single MP thought it prudent to institute changes to the Public Finance Management and the taxation regime to take into consideration the current realities and specifically to put a debt ceiling. Or put in place measures that will free up the economy. The MPs have the wherewithal to wage the war on corruption, tame the reckless spending and wastage in public service. They have the tools and mind to push for an attainable budget that focuses on that which promotes productivity; the magic of economic growth.  

Essentially, what is needed are reforms that will open up the economy and free up money held by the Government.

Alas, the MPs have not led in those efforts. And as with all work, reward should be commensurate with the effort put in. And so Kenyans are justified to feel abused, taken advantage of with the latest demand for a handsome housing allowance when many of them are grappling with the bare essentials of food, water and clothing.

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