President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to decline to approve a bill that would have given MPs the carte blanche to award themselves hefty allowances at will deserves special plaudits.
Had the President signed the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018 into law, this would have taken away the powers of Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to determine allowances for the 416 legislators in the National Assembly and the Senate.
It would have handed Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) powers to review domestic and international travel allowances for legislators without consulting the SRC.
Importantly, Uhuru reminded the lawmakers that SRC is the only agency mandated to determine salaries and allowances for all State officers.
That was the right thing to do. Over the years, the legislators’ proclivity to beef up their perks has earned them the moniker “M-Pigs”.
Although they are already fairly well remenurated compared to their regional and international counterparts, the legislators keep on seeking to line their pockets further to the chagrin of taxpayers. The President’s action could not have come at a better time. It comes while the public is in shock over revelations that up to 85 lawmakers and parliamentary staff travelled to the US legislative summit in August, a trip that gobbled up millions of shillings.
Surprisingly, public umbrage over the legislators’ unwhettable appetite for cash and even wastage such as in the huge US delegation usually does little to dampen their determination to raid public coffers. In fact, such outrage only serves to embolden them further.
That’s why the President’s decision to slam brakes on this bill was godsent. Assenting to the bill would have paved the road for MPs to get a raft of allowances, including the Sh250,000 house allowance and Sh18,000 to Sh24,000 night allowance — and even demand more.
Our economy, under pressure from all directions including the debt burden, clearly cannot support such profligacy.
The lawmakers should be content with the amount they earn (Sh1.2 million in salary and allowances monthly), and always remember that as they gorge on the fat, hundreds of their constituents sleep on hungry stomachs. They should also