The sitting allowances of land control board members have been raised fivefold as the State moves to improve the lot of officers who oversee the transfer and sale of rural land.
Land Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said the board members will be paid Sh2,500 as sitting allowance, up from Sh500, the first review in 27 years.
The move comes one year after Prof Kaimenya dissolved the boards and pledged to review members’ allowances amid claims of widespread graft.
The board members sit only once every month meaning each of the members will earn a maximum of Sh30,000 in sitting allowance per year. But in areas with a lot of transactions they hold special sittings.
Out of the 12 board members, up to seven are not civil servants meaning they look to the allowance as the only compensation for their services.
Apart from the Sh500, the non-civil servants have also been receiving mileage allowances at the rate of Sh100 under the rates set in 1990.
“Since 1990, a lot has changed, including the economic realities,” Prof Kaimenyi said in a statement.
Each of the 47 counties has a land control board which must give consent for the sale, transfer, lease, mortgage, exchange, partition or other dealings with any agricultural land in their areas.
The boards also establish land control areas and guidelines on granting consent, among others. Under Section 5 of the Land Control Act, membership of the boards includes the Deputy County Commissioner, no more than two other public officers, two persons nominated by the county government and between three and seven residents of the area of jurisdiction.
The boards meet monthly under the chairmanship of the respective county commissioners. The law empowers the Cabinet Secretary to appoint and gazette members to serve for three-year renewable terms.
The current members were appointed in June, 2016. Before Kenya adopted devolved governance, the land boards used to be chaired by district commissioners as they presided over buying, selling or sub-division of agricultural land in areas under their jurisdiction.
The government disbandment of the previous board last April. Prof Kaimenyi said there had been allegations of corruption among board officials which included favouring well-connected people for kickbacks.
The boards have been accused of abetting irregular sale or transfer of land by irresponsible individuals without the knowledge or consent of their immediate families.
In such cases, the seller colludes with the board to obtain its consent to sell or mortgage the family land behind the backs of his spouse or children.