MCAs' salary increase demands unrealistic

When Members of the County Assemblies ejected Devolution Principal Secretary Teresia Mbaika from their inaugural consultative forum over their demands. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

County operations could soon be disrupted if members of county assemblies (MCA) actaulise their threat to shoot down budget proposals.

The MCAs are demanding a salary increment to befit their statuses as elected leaders, and their yardstick is the pay that Members of Parliament take home. While it is within their right to ask for a pay increment, their timing is wrong, and the reasons clearly do not hold water. The country is going through extremely lean economic times when, truth be said, everybody could do with a pay hike.

It is in the public domain that the government is struggling and no less a person than Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has publicly admitted that the national coffers are empty. 

Indeed, the government has tabled proposals for increased taxation to bridge the gap and civil servants, for the first time since independence, are experiencing pay delays. This is an indicator of how dire the country’s economic situation is. Moreover, the government is struggling to service its huge foreign debt to avoid being penalised for defaulting. 

Under such circumstances, it is unreasonable for MCA’s to put the squeeze on a government that is struggling to stay on its feet. The threat to shoot down county budget proposals amounts to blackmail. County budgets cater for citizens, hence MCAs should not use them as pawns in their wars. 

As it stands today, MCA’s earn a gross pay of Sh144,376 per month, which is more than what most lowly paid workers earn in a year of toil. Most of the people who elected the MCA’s can barely put a single meal on the table, yet MCA’s would rather pursue their own personal interests, which is to compete with Members of Parliament on matters of remuneration. 

The attitude exhibited by MCAS depicts them as people who have an over inflated opinion of their worth to society. What MCA’s should demand, perhaps, is a reduction in the salaries of MP’s, which they feel are high, to help the country cope with the hard economic times.