ECONOMIC SHOCK

More state, county officers take pay cuts

Speakers Muturi and Lusaka took their cue from President Kenyatta.

In Summary

• National Assembly’s Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka said they would take 30 per cent pay cut for the next three months to help the needy.

• Several members of the National Assembly and Senators lauded the president for the timely interventions with some stating their readiness for salary reduction

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta
Image: FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s measures to save the economy from collapse following the Covid-19 crisis continued to draw reactions from various sectors.

Parliamentarians, church leaders and county assemblies welcomed the interventions, saying they will help cushion Kenyans from the economic shock posed by the virus.

On Thursday, speakers of the two Houses led MPs in supporting the initiatives announced by the head of state to save the needy. National Assembly’s Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka said they would take 30 per cent pay cut for the next three months.

Those who also took their cue from the President were Mandera Governor Ali Roba ( 30 per cent) and senior county officials ( 10-20 per cent). Nairobi Health executive Hitan Majevdia also took a 50 per cent pay cut. Other governors also pledged 30 per cent cuts to be used in their counties. 

Several members of the National Assembly and senators also lauded the President, with some stating their readiness for salary reduction.

National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali said Jubilee Party members would implement the directives, including taking a pay cut.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said he was willing to volunteer part of his net pay.

Other lawmakers, however, said they would prefer the government to retain the five per cent reduced from their PAYE.

“Some of us have commitments which may not allow us to take cuts. Let the Treasury retain the five per cent relief in our income tax,” Awendo MP Walter Owino said.

While supporting the President’s initiatives, Senate Minority chief whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said it was not easy for all members to surrender their salaries. He said some of them were servicing loans.

He, however, reiterated that they were ready to tweak the budget and reallocate money appropriately to fight the virus.

“I wouldn’t say that every member to surrender part of their salary because there are those, by virtue of taking the facilities in Parliament, are not able to. The only thing that members can surrender is the respective allowances they collect from Parliament,” he said.

He reckoned that allocations for travels, meetings, catering and conferences should be reallocated and channelled towards equipping hospitals and hiring of medical personnel.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, whose county has recorded the highest number of cases, said the measures were good but added that more need to be done to help those in the informal settlements.

“I am ready to take a pay cut of whatever percentage. What we need to know is the plan for that money. My pay cut should go to poor people. If I am guaranteed, I will take even 100 per cent pay cut for three months,” he said.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino said he will surrender 50 per cent of his salary to go towards combating the virus.

County Assemblies Forum chairman Ndegwa Wahome said the measures announced by the President were timely but said it was not easy for MCAs to take a salary cut.

Church leaders separately weighed in on the President’s goodies calling for more measures to help those without livelihoods put food in their table.

The Clergy Association of Kenya further wants the President to advise landlords to consider giving three-month rent relief to their tenants.

The leaders also poked holes on the county governments’ haphazard implementation of directives issued by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe to contain the virus.

“Let the national committee liaise with governors on the directives. Kenya is one and we cannot continue with the autocratic rules by some counties,” the clergymen said.

They cited the ban on bodaboda in Machakos and the curfew imposed in Murang’ restricting visits into and out of the county.