Our fragile economy cannot support the demands of MPs

By The Standard | Friday, Aug 24th 2018 at 00:00
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Jubilee MPs led by Benjamin Washiali consult before addressing the media at Parliament on Tuesday 19/09/17 over election preparedness. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

A visit by members of a parliamentary committee to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland has left them with the green-eyed monster.

From the contents of a motion filed by the Nyaribari Chache Constituency Member of Parliament Ezekiel Machogu, who also chairs the National Assembly’s Committee on Members Services and Facilities, the members were so impressed by the lifestyles and perks accorded to their colleagues in the two European countries, they want the perks replicated here.

Notwithstanding that the salaries and perks our Members of Parliament enjoy have generated heated debates in a country where unemployment rates are astronomical and the cost of living prohibitive for the common citizen, MPs want more.

Not content with what they earn, and what they consider demeaning to their statuses, MPs are pushing for more. And in a bid to achieve that, they show open disdain for the very voters who bestowed upon them the statuses they are enjoying.

Top on the agenda of the motion is the demand that Parliament’s Sergeant at Arms bars members of the public from visiting MPs too regularly. It would seem that having served the purpose of electing the honourable members, and perhaps having lowered their own esteem by accepting meagre handouts to elect undeserving leaders, the public is, in the meantime, of no further value to the MPs.

Members of parliament want access to a member’s lounge that should be out of bounds to outsiders. They want unrestricted internet use at the tax payer’s expense, round the clock security details, modern well-furnished offices, a five-star outside catering service since the food in parliament’s canteen does not meet the sensibilities of their stomachs that have grown used to the good things of life, and a massage parlour. All these at the taxpayers’ expense.

Not only that, the MPs demand an increase in car grant from the current Sh5 million to Sh7 million and a further increase to the Sh20 million mortgage they already enjoy while. In the meantime, Wanjiku is wondering where the next meal will be coming from.

Our MPs propensity for greed is astounding, and not for the first time, we are calling for this unbridled greed to be checked. Leaders should not be allowed to continually feather their own nests at the expense of a public heavily taxed, but not feeling the trickle-down effects of that taxation.

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom and Ireland have an entitlement to those perks, if only because their economies can sustain them and they serve governments that deliver services to the people.

In Kenya, corruption, in which members of parliament have been heavily implicated, has served to run down the government, and from it arose a dysfunctional system so erratic it does not deliver to the citizens.

Kenya’s Gross Domestic product per capita is pegged at $1507 by the World Bank. The Gross Domestic Product per Capita of the United Kingdom is $39720 while that of Ireland stands at $69330.

While Kenya’s inflation rate stands at 4.85 per cent, the UK’s stands at 2.3 per cent and Ireland at 0.8 per cent. One doesn’t have to be rocket scientists to see that we cannot even begin to make comparisons between Kenya and the UK or Ireland.

Rather than device ways that would ensure job creation, food security and affordable living standards for Kenyans, our MPs would rather rob the public coffers dry because over time, they have demonstrated that they went into leadership for what they could squeeze out of it than for what they could do for the people who elected them.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission, having considered what MPs earn against what others in the civil service earn, determined that the salaries of MPs should be scaled down. That recommendation forced an otherwise divided house to unite to reject the recommendations.

Members of Parliament have had their way for far too long. It is time to put a stop to their avarice. It bodes ill for a country that is struggling to stabilize its battered economy. Those of goodwill should stamp down their feet and say enough is enough.


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