Raila condemns MPs' push for more perks

'If the trend continues, the cost of doing business in this country is going to be very high'

In Summary

•The legislators are setting a 'very bad precedent' for Kenyan workers.

•They, alongside the Executive, should be at the forefront in bringing down the country’s wage bill.

Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga has joined Kenyans in an all-round condemnation of the decision by members of Parliament to increase their salaries and allowances.

It will set “a very bad precedent” for Kenyan workers and end up making the country unattractive for foreign investment, Raila said yesterday.

“If the trend continues, the cost of doing business in this country is going to be very high,” he explained.

Raila said the legislators and the Executive should be in the forefront to bring down the country’s wage bill.

“It starts with the Executive then Parliament. The moment legislators increase their salaries, tomorrow it will be teachers, doctors and nurses and Cotu asking for the same. Until when will this cycle end?” he asked.

The ODM leader spoke in his Nairobi office when Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja paid him a courtesy call.  The governor is at loggerheads with MCAs over a budget impasse. 

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission, in a July 7, 2017, gazette notice, abolished MPs’ car grant and reduced the number of payable sittings for plenary sessions and sitting allowance for committee meetings.

The SRC also abolished reimbursable mileage allowance but Justice George Odunga quashed the decision after MPs challenged it in court.

The MPs want to reinstate and increase several allowances that the SRC scrapped such that their salaries will increase from about Sh1.1 million to Sh2.1-Sh2.9 million a month.

They want car grants doubled from Sh5 million to Sh10 million, mortgages increased, medical cover extended to more than one spouse and retain car maintenance and mileage allowances.

They are asking for a raise in the plenary sitting allowance from Sh5,000 to Sh7,500 per session. They also want the sitting allowance for committees increased from Sh5,000 to Sh7,500 per session and that of chairpersons of committees from Sh8,000 to Sh15,000.

Raila said MPs should lead by example and show Kenyans how the wage bill can be brought down. “I strongly support the SRC on this matter. I don’t think there should be any compromise.”

On Taita Taveta, Raila said the leadership should seek a fresh mandate from the people if efforts to resolve the budget stalemate fail. “If there is no solution, then hold elections. However, before we get there, MCAs should sit with the executive and the Senate to find a solution.” 

Samboja is collecting signatures with the view of dissolving the devolved unit over Sh830 million that MCAs allocated themselves through the Ward Development Fund.

Yesterday, the governor said he was committed to having the county dissolved. “I am proceeding well with signature collection and I will push it until the county is resolved. I believe if the leadership cannot agree then the best present you can give the people is an election,” he said.

The county assembly passed a Sh5.3 billion budget with the MCAs allocating themselves Sh41.2 million each for projects in their wards.