MCAs sitting perks halved to Sh422m after salary cuts

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo. photo | salaton njau | nmg
Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo. photo | salaton njau | nmg 

Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) sitting allowances more than halved in six months to December, marking the biggest drop since onset of devolution.

Latest Controller of Budget (CoB) report shows counties spent Sh422.06 million on MCAs’ sitting allowance in the first half of the year, a 67 per cent drop from the Sh1.29 billion spent during a similar period a year ago.

This is the first the spending over a period of six months has gone below the Sh1 billion mark.

The drop is linked to their long absence during the August 8 General Election campaigns and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s (SRCs) review of perks and benefits of State officers in July.

“On aggregate the Counties reported a reduction in expenditure on MCAs sitting allowance by 67 per cent from Sh1.29 billion in a similar period of FY 2016/17 to Sh422.06 million,” said CoB Agnes Odhiambo in the report.

Each of the 2,253 MCAs took home an average of Sh62,445 per month in sitting allowances, down from Sh95,381 in a similar period a year earlier.

The ward representatives earned an average Sh82,712 a month in sitting allowances in their first year in office that ended June 2014. That amount rose steadily in the subsequent years to cross the Sh100,000 mark.

In July last year, SRC abolished MCAs’ mileage reimbursements, sitting allowances for plenary sessions and special responsibility perks.

This meant that the new crop of representatives elected on August 8 elections have no chance of using similar means to pick taxpayers’ pockets.

During the period under review, five county assemblies paid MCAs monthly sitting allowances in excess of the maximum Sh80,000 that the SRC has recommended.

“County Assemblies that reported higher expenditure on committee sitting allowance than the SRC’s recommended monthly maximum were Kakamega (Sh108,172), Samburu (Sh92,372), Turkana (Sh90,505), Tana River (Sh150,558) and Taita Taveta at Sh80,969,” said Ms Odhiambo.

This is up from three counties - Trans Nzoia, Murang’a and Homa Bay -that breached the limit of Sh124,800 that SRC had set in a similar period a year earlier.

In January, the High Court stopped the SRC, from implementing the 2017-2022 pay structure, that sought to slash MCAs pay from Sh165,000 to Sh144,375 a month.