SRC Chair Lynn Mengich: Why we scrapped MPs' sitting allowances

Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Chairperson Lyn Mengich. [File, Standard]

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has revealed how and why it reached the decision to slash the MPs' allowances.

Last month, the SRC issued a gazette notice, scrapping MPs' sitting allowances in what it said will save taxpayers over one billion shillings yearly.

In an interview on Citizen TV on Saturday, August 27 night, SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich said the decision was reached after conducting salary market surveys and international benchmarking.

She says they focused on equity and fairness when paying salaries, which translated to equal pay for work of equal value.

"We had to conduct a job evaluation and we were able to determine the job worth. An MP's job is equivalent to a Principal Secretary and a chair of any commission. They are in Group F1," Mengich said.

"An Mp earns Sh710, 000 before sitting allowances of Sh120, 000 are added. This means they take home 830, 000. If you add plenary sitting allowances, then an MP takes home Sh910, 000. This equates them to a Governor. That is why we had to remove plenary sitting allowances and ensure the pay is at the same level," she added.

She says the decision was supported by Article 230 of the Constitution which highlights the principles to consider in determining pay for state and non-state officers.

"In performing its functions, the Commission shall take the following principles into account; the need to ensure that the total public compensation bill is fiscally sustainable, the need to ensure that the public services are able to attract and retain the skills required to execute their functions, the need to recognise productivity and performance, transparency and fairness," the constitution reads.

The changes will take effect with newly-elected lawmakers following the August 9 elections.

Despite slashing the sitting allowances, SRC increased the lawmakers' basic pay by Sh134,000 to Sh710,000.

In July 2017, the commission scrapped sitting allowances for lawmakers, reduced basic pay by Sh90,000 to Sh621,250 and removed the Sh5 million car grant given to every legislator.

However, the High Court quashed the changes following a petition by the lawmakers.

They accused the SRC of seeking to cripple the functioning of the 12th Parliament and interference with their constitutional mandate.

The latest changes are likely to open another round of clashes given that legislators have in the past successfully challenged a similar decision.