Uasin Gishu representatives received the highest amount in sitting allowances in the year to June while their Taita Taveta counterparts were the least paid, according to a new report that shows how devolved units blew Sh2.4 billion on meeting fees.
The Controller of Budget’s report released on Friday shows that on average each MCA in Uasin Gishu was paid Sh235, 743 per month in the one year to June. Their 36 counterparts in Taita Taveta earned Sh15,827 per month as counties at the Coast generally spent the least on sitting allowances relative to other devolved units.
Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo warns that meeting and travel allowances are taking a huge chunk of county governments’ revenues. County representatives spent Sh3.7 billion on foreign and domestic travel in the period to June and splashed Sh6.3 billion on cars, helping lift the earnings of new car dealers who are recording the best sales in more than a decade.
On average, each of Kenya’s 2,526 MCAs pocketed Sh88,044 in sitting allowances for the year under review. “However, there is a huge variance in the average monthly sitting allowance across the counties. Uasin Gishu had the highest average monthly sitting allowance per MCA while Taita Taveta had the lowest amount,” Mrs Odhiambo said in the report.
“Expenditures on MCA sitting allowances for Nyeri, Kiambu, Busia, Kwale, Migori and Machakos counties exceeded their budgetary allocation.”
For instance, Migori spent Sh125.6 million yet it had budgeted Sh115 million for the allowances while Nyeri spent Sh69 million against the set Sh34.5 million. According to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, MCAs should not earn more than Sh124, 000 a month in sitting allowances. Seven counties breached this barrier.
Other big MCAs who pocketed outsized allowances are Trans Nzoia where each of its 40 representatives earned Sh172,445, Migori (Sh161, 029), Busia (Sh143, 810) and Wajir (Sh137,779).
Nairobi spent the most cash on sitting allowances at Sh148.5 million for its 128 members, but each took a smaller fee of Sh96, 871. Besides Taita Taveta, the other low spenders were Mombasa (Sh26, 296), Lamu (Sh26, 560), Kajiado (Sh30, 892) and Bungoma (Sh33, 861). The disclosure of the MCAs allowances comes at a period when ward representatives are pushing for higher pay including perks, mortgage loans, car grants, ward offices and a budget for hiring aides like drivers, bodyguards and secretaries.
Many Kenyans view elected representatives, including MPs, as greedy individuals who seek public office for personal gain in a country beset with an unemployment rate of about 40 per cent. But politicians argue that they deserve the high compensation because constituents expect them to provide charitable support.