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MPs press Salaries and Remuneration Commission to reinstate Sh5m car grant

POLITICS
By Daniel Psirmoi and Roselyne Obala | September 14th 2017
Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem. Photo: David Njaaga, Standard

Parliament has written to the salaries commission to ask for the reinstatement of a Sh5 million car grant for its members.

This follows protests by members of Parliament, who have resisted the reduced pay recommended by the Sarah Serem-led Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) before the elections.

The car grant was among a raft of allowances SRC scrapped as it reduced the salaries of MPs and other top State officers to save Sh8 billion annually to curb the runaway wage bill.

The Standard independently established that lawmakers are fighting to have the Sh5 million car grant, previously given to MPs before the austerity measures introduced by SRC came into effect, reinstated

The car grant is now the focus of the MPs who hope to convince the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), to rescue them from what the legislators describe as 'a humiliating life'.

The commission said it is negotiating with SRC but promised to abide by the new pay circular.

SRC circular

"We will effect the SRC circular as we negotiate with them on the grievances raised by the lawmakers," said a PSC official who declined to be named.

Insiders confided to The Standard that the commission had initiated fresh talks after the salaries regulation agency gazetted new reduced pay perks for members of the 12th Parliament.

The MPs' latest manoeuvre comes against the backdrop of concerns over the ballooning wage bill, with public opinion being against any attempts to increase the legislators' perks.

There are also sharp divisions among the legislators, with some pledging to comply with the new pay package backed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, while others argue that it is impractical and will only open them to the risk of being easily compromised.

The lawmakers are at a crossroads because even as the country goes for a repeat presidential election, the main protagonists, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, have vowed not to burden the taxpayer with an exaggerated wage bill arising from MPs' pay and perks.

The scrapping of the car grant by SRC at the end of the last Parliament has especially irked MPs, who questioned the rationale that was used to arrive at the decision.

The scrapped perks mean that on average the monthly take-home salary of an MP will be reduce by at least Sh455,000, something MPs who spoke to The Standard on condition that their names are not revealed for fear of a public backlash said was unrealistic.

Scrapped perks

"We should be realistic. It will cost Sh7 million to get a good vehicle. How will one service the loan with the balance of Sh400,000 and still remain with some funds?" said one.

Two legislators from central Kenya cautioned that denying MPs the car loan will only open the floodgates for graft. However senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) and Enock Wambua (Kitui) supported the SRC, saying it does not matter what transport they use to reach their people since they were elected to serve.

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