Budget unit names MCAs with highest sitting perks

Agnes Odhiambo, Controller of Budget. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Agnes Odhiambo, Controller of Budget. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Trans Nzoia ward representatives received the highest amount in sitting allowances in quarter one as four counties breached pay caps, according to a new report that shows how devolved units will this year spend Sh3.3 billion on meeting fees.

The Controller of Budget’s report shows that on average each MCA in Trans Nzoia was paid Sh171, 400 per month in the one quarter to September.

Their 40 counterparts in Vihiga spent the least on sitting allowances relative to other devolved units with an average monthly pay of Sh24, 798.

On average, each of Kenya’s 2, 267 MCAs pocketed Sh93, 857 in sitting allowances for the year under review.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has previously warned that meeting and travel allowances are taking a huge chunk of county governments’ revenues.

County representatives spent Sh1 billion on foreign and domestic travel in the quarter and look set to spend Sh3.9 billion on trips in the year ended June.

“Four county assemblies reported higher monthly average expenditure on MCAs sitting allowances than the SRC (Salaries and Remuneration Commission )recommended monthly maximum of Sh124, 800,” said Ms Odhiambo.

Besides Trans Nzoia, other counties that breached the SRC cap are Homa Bay where the 64 MCAs each earned Sh159, 117, Busia (Sh135, 899) and Siaya (Sh129, 437).

Bottom spenders are Vihiga, Mandera (Sh27, 557), Kajiado (Sh43, 560), Isiolo (Sh45, 675), Kitui (Sh63, 021) and Nairobi (Sh64, 408).

The disclosure of the MCAs allowances comes in a period when Kenya has witnessed a high number of political aspirants seeking to be ward representatives in August 8 polls, egged on by the pay and business deals that come with the position.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) expects more than 35, 000 people to run for the seat , which was hitherto viewed as non-lucrative job of councillor in Kenya’s defunct local authorities.

Droves of professionals that had in 2013 shunned the seat are trooping back to their wards. The MCA’s earn nearly Sh300, 000 monthly.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee wants the number of MCAs, especially nominated, to be cut and ease the burden on the economy.

The ward representatives have been 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.