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Faith Nyasuguta

Kenya’s newly elected MPs are set to initiate the process of disbanding the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) following its decision to scrap sitting allowances in plenary sessions.

They (lawmakers) have also rebuked the commission’s boss Lyn Mengich who has given a nod to the slashing of the MPs pay which is already hefty and leaving taxpayers feeling the pinch to fill the public coffers.

SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich. Image: /The Star/

According to the legislators, the SRC has overstepped its mandate. They have asked their employer, the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), to challenge the decision by moving to court.

The SRC in a gazette notice issued on July 28 scrapped sitting allowances in what it noted will save taxpayers over $8,285,000 annually.

The commission, however, retained committee sitting allowances and increased MPs’ basic pay by Sh134,000 ($1,110) to Sh710,000 ($5,882) in a bid to appease the lawmakers.

For every sitting, MPs earn some Sh5,000 ($41.43) and the scrapping of the allowances for plenary sessions in the National Assembly and Senate is meant to ease the pressure on the public sector wage bill which is currently at Sh930.5 billion ($7.709 billion).

With a consolidated salary of Sh710,000 ($5,882) which they pad with other allowances to balloon the monthly pay beyond Sh1 million ($8,285), the MPs demanded more and accused the SRC of demeaning them with low pay amid heavy responsibilities.

The parliamentarians are also opposed to restrictions on the engine size of their vehicles, which the SRC capped at 3,000cc, in changes published in the Kenya Gazette on July 28In addition, the MPs want their medical cover benefits to apply to all spouses of a member.

Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala. Image: /Citizen Digital/

“I have two wives. When I come here I am given a condition that I must only put one wife in the medical insurance. I have been in Parliament before and we used to put two wives on medical insurance. You are putting me, as a man, on a collision course with my wives, to choose who I love the most. And I am not able to know who will be the next to fall sick,” Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala said.

Raphael Wanjala

He added: “You are also giving me conditions for the children I have sired. In Kenya, there is no law that limits us to give birth to only four children. I sire as many children as I can because I am a Christian and they told me to go and fill the world. Why do you reduce me to four children? I have 15 but five I am still paying for but the 10 have already left. We should consider the two wives because even NHIF (a medical cover) has accepted.”

The Parliament in Nairobi, Kenya. Image: /Courtesy/

The MPs are also opposed to the Sh150,000 ($1,243) house allowance, claiming the commission had played games with them by splitting their administrative pay.

“The administrative allowance in the 12th Parliament was Sh284,000 ($2,355). What you (SRC) have done now is just splitting that amount into house allowance of Sh150,000 and Sh134,000 as salary adjustment then you tell Kenyans that you have given MPs a house allowance.

This is just a con game,” said an MP serving his fourth term.In the past, lawmakers have successfully challenged similar decisions by the salaries team and managed to reinstate perks earned by the previous House.

“We will not sit and watch the SRC take away what we enjoyed in the last Parliament. We will ask the Parliamentary Service Commission to challenge the gazette notice failing which we will embark on a process to disband the SRC,” Tim Wanyonyi, the third-term MP for Westlands, said at the start of a two-day orientation for newly elected lawmakers.

The SRC is a constitutional body that can only be scrapped through an amendment of the Constitution.

This will require Parliament to raise a two-thirds majority, 233 of the 349 MPs to disband the commission.

MPs have in the past clashed with the SRC for slashing huge benefits that they enjoyed before the enactment of the Constitution in 2010.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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