Times are hard and everyone must tighten their belts, various political and economic experts have warned as the new administration settles down. Indeed, the economic outlook shows that the cost of living will remain high or even go a bit higher for a few months before stabilising and eventually going down for everyone.
But that is only if we move in the right direction as a country and government effects visionary policies that will drastically lower cost of production in agriculture, manufacturing and service industry. This calls for prudent use of resources and cutting luxury spending. It has been done before and it is possible today with the new government.
It was, therefore, disheartening for the newly elected members of the 13th Parliament to try to coerce the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to reinstate sitting allowances for plenary sessions. But a courageous SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich braved five hours of pressure from the new MPs seeking more perks. She did not yield and saved Kenyan taxpayers hundreds of millions.
Ms Mengich maintained that the sitting allowance had been included in their consolidated pay at Sh710,000 a month. Kenyan legislators are indeed among the well-remunerated elected leaders in the world and should not complain or agitate for more money.
But historically, our MPs have had a reputation of seeking to unjustly enrich themselves. That is why majority of Kenyans see them a selfish, inward-looking and greedy arm of government. There has hardly been any august House that stood for public good or sacrificed personally for the sake of the suffering citizenry.
Indeed, the 12th Parliament was always at loggerheads with the SRC over one type of allowance, perks or privilege. When a vote was put on any motion that promised more money in their pockets, the House was always full and the vote unanimous. On other more serious issues, it was hard to raise a quorum. How unfortunate!
Today, even before the 13th Parliament gets down to business, the new lot of MPs are at it again, even before working for their first monthly salary. It is unfortunate because majority of voters thought the fresh blood would inject new impetus and help rescue a bleeding economy.
Prices of all basic commodities have hit the roof and majority of Kenyans can hardly make ends meet. The MPs and the new Kenya Kwanza government promised to work hard for the mwananchi first and lower cost of living. They must deliver from day one.
The MPs should be discussing means of lowering cost of farming inputs, cost of power for industries and ways of lowering taxes. This is no time to think of new cars, houses or expensive holidays at the expense of Kenyan taxpayers.