Revenue standoff: Reduce cost of governance

We urgently need an MP to sponsor a bill to curtail sitting members from deciding on their own salaries and allowances.

In Summary

• Requirements of Article 216 ( 1 ) of the Constitution — CRA functions — may be the problem but there is the issue of constitutionalism and the costly structure of government

•  Switzerland and Malaysia leadership is rotational. Poorest perceived state takes preference as the invincible arm automatically develops the poor state better. 

Reduce cost of governance
Reduce cost of governance
Image: OZONE

The Commission on Revenue Allocation presented the recommendation on the third basis for equitable sharing of revenue among the counties. The basis was to be used for the sharing of revenue between 2019-20 and 2023-24.

My brother asked me to watch the Senate debate live on TV on August 4, which I did. The debate prompted me to study the CRA recommendations, which I found to have been excellent.

They sought to address four primary objectives; to enhance service delivery, promote balanced development, incentivise counties to optimise capacity to raise revenue and enhance prudent use of public resources.

The objectives actualised through a framework that link sharing to devolved functions using three components identified as service delivery, balanced development and incentive, are well intended.

I made an extensive tour of Turkana county in February during the rainy season. 

While Lodwar Township has had tremendous development, credit to the county government, the resources required to develop other areas are enormous. I would have been delighted if Governor Josephat Nanok took the senators for a tour of the county during a rainy season and stay without electricity, and phone network for two weeks. The county also hosts a heaven of Lake Turkana lodges.

On studying the formula, I missed on the method for the allocation of 85 per cent to the national government ”elephant” budget.

According to the CRA recommendation the following were the considerations:  Land area eight per cent, roads four per cent, and poverty levels 14 per cent.

While the commissioners stressed internal auditing, they missed monitoring and evaluation, which would have been key to the success in completion of government projects.

Rather than learning from other developed countries, they needed to learn randomly from poor Kenyans in Turkana, West Pokot, Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi, Isiolo, Kajiado and and Kitui just to name but a few. 

Requirements of Article 216 (1) of the Constitution — CRA functions — may be the problem and this brings me to constitutionalism and the structure of government, which has a huge impact on the country's budget. 

 As students of National Defence College in 1997-8, we were privileged to tour Switzerland, China, South Korea, and Malaysia as our other course colleagues toured the US and Latin America. 

We were impressed by Switzerland, which is one of the richest in the world. The President is the head of Switzerland's seven-member Federal Council, the country's executive.

Elected by the Federal Assembly for one year, Switzerland’s direct democracy and federalist tradition are unique and the Swiss political system can often be hard to explain to foreigners.

The Legislature consists of the National Council (representing the people, with 200 deputies) and the Council of States (representing the cantons, with 46 deputies). Together, these two institutions make up the Federal Assembly. The Swiss electorate has at least four opportunities each year to vote on national proposals. Parliament is re-elected every four years, and there are also cantonal referendum and elections.

Switzerland leadership is rotated among the seven Council chairpersons. They have only seven ministries. The President earns about $500,000 or Sh50 million per year. He/she uses own transport/ fuel and maintains own vehicles unless on official duties.

Would any African state adopt such a system that saves enormous resources to the country? We could start by making the presidency unattractive.

Both Switzerland and Malaysia leadership is rotational. Poorest perceived state takes preference as the invincible arm automatically develops the poor state better. 

Kenyan legislators have been ranked the second-highest paid in the world, beating their counterparts from the developed economies of the US, Britain and Japan. As of this year, the gross salary of an MP in Kenya is Sh1.59 million per month. This salary is inclusive of allowances and other benefits. Apart from the salaries, they also have a car grant of Sh5.88 million tax-free.

The same MPs also pocket Sh10, 000 per sitting, plus mileage allowances. Add to that a health insurance policy.

We urgently need an MP to sponsor a bill to curtail sitting members from deciding on their own salaries and allowances. The fact that they legislate conflicts with their interest to discuss their salary and allowances. The President remains a citizens’ hero for consistently denying them the approval.

The 27th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for representatives

The amendment is the most recent to be adopted, but one of the first proposed by the first Congress to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, along with 11 other amendments.

While 10 of these 12 proposals were ratified, it took the 203 years to pass this law. Any Kenyan MP may sponsor a similar bill but may not live long enough to witness ratification.