President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday offered the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) crucial backing in its war with MPs, setting the stage for a bruising battle between Parliament and the Executive.
Mr Kenyatta, who was speaking at Catholic University, Nairobi, asked the MPs-elect to accept the new pay scales for the 12th Parliament, warning them that the quest for higher salaries is the reason voters rejected most members of the 11th Parliament at the recent polls.
“Be careful, because that is the reason many MPs lost their seats in the election,” the President said as he vowed not to sign any Bill awarding the legislators more money.
“I swear I shall not sign that law. We should understand that we are called to serve the people, not to earn from them,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta spoke after several MPs promised to stall the approval of new Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and other top government appointees if the new pay structure that has significantly reduced their monthly take-home is not withdrawn.
The MPs-elect had in a move aimed at countering the Sarah Serem-led SRC, promised to procure an undertaking from the House Speaker that he will not receive names of new CS’s and PS’s from the Executive until the gazette notice is revoked.
MPs from across Jubilee and Nasa coalitions vowed to unite in ensuring that the first agenda of the House will be to annul the SRC notice, which slashed their salaries from Sh710,000 to Sh621,250 in addition to eliminating various allowances, including the Sh5 million car grant that members of the 11th Parliament enjoyed.
Homa Bay Woman representative Gladys Wanga, who was a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) in the 11th Parliament, had kicked off the debate on parliamentarians’ pay by insisting that the commission would not allow the SRC to reduce MPs to beggars through the new salary structure.
“We will use all machinery available to us, including forestalling any approval of CSs and PSs, to annul the gazette notice and restore previous terms,” said Samuel Atandi, the new MP for Alego Usonga (ODM).
But Mr Kenyatta asked MPs to respect themselves if they want to continue being called ‘‘honourable.’’
“I am greatly disturbed by the statements from individuals who claim that they should be paid more than what the law provides even before they have been sworn in,” he said even as he challenged opposition leader Raila Odinga to declare his opposition to MPs demand for bigger salaries.
Mr Odinga’s party ODM issued a statement distancing itself from those agitating for higher pay.