At a time Kenyans are struggling with a heavy burden due to lack of basic amenities in counties, reports from the Controller of Budget showing that Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) increased their sitting allowances in the nine months to March is disheartening.
Each of the 2,242 MCAs pocketed Sh80,177 as sitting allowances monthly, the highest in three years.
The perks are a sharp rise from two years ago when they earned Sh33,136 per month in June 2018 and Sh76,995 the following year when the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) cut pay and benefits for State officers.
But after the High Court reinstated the benefits, the MCAs are back to earning the abnormal perks.
With no law restricting the stipends, the billions of shillings earned as perks for MCAs have seen the 47 counties squeeze budgets for the provision of basic services.
Counties lack well-equipped hospitals, piped water, proper waste management systems, markets, and roads. The few hospitals in counties lack drugs, theatres, and doctors.
As coronavirus spreads to the counties, the economy will be hit harder. Joblessness will rise, and so will the demand for proper healthcare.
Government officials should impose stringent budget cuts, use public money wisely in managing hunger, the rising rates of unemployment, and prioritising setup of isolation centres and intensive care units.
The MCAs should realise that their role as custodians of devolution is to ensure that development reaches counties and that they push for management and proper use of county resources to improve lives.
Kenyans elected the MCAs to speak for them. But their allowances have had a minimal corresponding impact on public service.
The concept of public officers giving themselves more money is unfair.
Taxpayers cannot afford to have a few people enriching themselves at the expense of the poor.