Salaries body to challenge new pay rise for legislators
Posted Tuesday, April 24 2012 at 21:02
The amendment entitles each MP to a gratuity calculated at the rate of 31 per cent of their Sh860,000 basic pay for each year served. Each of MP is currently entitled to Sh300,000 annual gratuity payment translating to Sh1.5 million at the end of their term.
Members of the House bureaucracy also got generous pay-offs in the deal, including deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and members of the Speakers Panel who got responsibility allowances.
Mr Maalim is, for instance, set to receive a total of Sh9.6 million while the four temporary speakers will go home with Sh1.2 million each for every year served.
The 10 PSC commissioners were awarded Sh1.2 million in responsibility allowance for each year served, backdated to 2006.
Members of the Ninth Parliament who held similar positions are also set to benefit from the new payments.
Legislators have been the target of public anger over what is seen as an unjustified skewing of public sector pay in their own favour.
Fred Nyayieka, the executive director of Pensions Advisory Kenya, said the trend of MPs awarding themselves huge pay perks has become the norm every five years.
“MPs who have served two consecutive terms are already entitled to benefit from the pension scheme which is one of the most generous in the country,” said Nyayieka adding that a further payment of gratuity amounts to double compensation and is a clear attempt to cushion one-term lawmakers who do not make it back to Parliament and are therefore not be eligible for the pension.
The stage is now set for a battle between the SRC and Parliament with lawyers arguing that the commission’s mandate should be respected.
“Parliament cannot usurp the powers of an independent commission. The Constitution describes MPs as state officials and therefore their salary reviews automatically fall under the SRC,” said Kenneth Akide, a former Law Society of Kenya chairman.
Mr Akide said that the Constitution allows any member of the public to – as an interested party – seek interpretation from a constitutional court on such matters as one of the avenues of recourse.
MP Mohammed Affey has since argued that the amounts are justified given the enormous responsibilities MPs shoulder and challenged those who think the move is illegal to go to court.
MP Millie Odhiambo, who was the only legislator to oppose the gratuity increment, described the manner in which the amendment was brought into Parliament as “sneaky”.
“MPs may feel they deserve the money for all the work they have done in the past five years but it should have been done in an open and transparent way and most of all involve the SRC,” she said.
Last week’s gratuity allocation is just but one of the many carrots that the Ministry of Finance dangled before MPs to influence the passing of the Finance Bill.