Supremacy battle looms as MPs oppose SRC salary cut directive

A section of Parliament building Nairobi on January 06, 2017.PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO
A section of Parliament building Nairobi on January 06, 2017.PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

The stage is set for yet another round of supremacy war between lawmakers and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) after the MPs’ employer vowed to reject the new salary structure that significantly trimmed their hefty perks.

A member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), the MPs’ employer, came out Wednesday and demanded reinstatement of the salaries and allowances that MPs enjoyed in the 11th Parliament, whose term expired on August 7.

“We are not asking for salary increases. We want the salaries that we have been earning. The SRC is unfairly targeting Members of Parliament and we can’t stand as PSC and watch SRC reduce MPs to beggars who will be lining up for handouts at the offices of the Executive every Friday,” said Gladys Wanga, a PSC commissioner.

The SRC released a Kenya Gazette notice cutting MPs’ salaries from Sh710,000 to Sh621,250 and abolishing a number of allowances, including the Sh5 million car grant they were entitled to.

The Sarah Serem-led SRC on July 7th published a legal notice setting the new salaries structure for State officers for the period 2017-2022.

The new pay structure, which replaces the current one, comes into effect after the inauguration of the 12th Parliament in two weeks.

Under the new remuneration structure, sitting allowances for plenary sessions, mileage allowances, and special parliamentary and responsibility allowances for MPs have been scrapped. MPs also lost car grants, in a move expected to save taxpayers Sh2.08 billion.

“The following benefits and allowances are abolished and cease to be payable: car grant, special parliamentary allowance, reimbursable mileage allowance, sitting allowance for plenary sessions and special responsibility allowance,” the SRC said in the notice.
The SRC has, however, zoned transport allowances into five categories based on distance, replacing weekly mileage claims where MPs used to rake in millions.

Chairpersons of committees in the 11th Parliament earned up to Sh10,000 per day or a maximum of Sh160,000 a month, vice-chairpersons Sh8,000 per day or a maximum of Sh128,000 a month, and committee members Sh5,000 daily or up to Sh80,000 a month under the remuneration structure that expired on August 8.

The statement by Ms Wanga, the Homa Bay Woman Representative, rekindled the prolonged tug-of-war between the MPs and SRC in 2013 that saw legislators arm-twist the Executive and the Treasury into granting them higher perks.

“We will not sit and watch SRC humiliate and demean MPs in the manner that they are doing,” Ms Wanga said, adding that she represented the entire PSC.