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Review of MPs’ perks should be pegged on the health of economy



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The latest demand for sky-high salaries and higher and multiple perks by MPs is vomit-inducing. It reinforces my argument of two Sundays ago that Kenyans need to decide on the Kenya they want, chart a brand new elector-and-elected paradigm and relationship.

Salaries and perks are negotiated and agreed between employers and employees or via collective bargaining. But we have an abnormal scenario here where employees, that is the lawmakers, are, in effect, telling employers, that is electors, that:

“We will pay ourselves this much and increase it by this much when we deem fit. And that’s just the way we will make the law.”

That is extortion. MPs are demanding their salaries and perks be increased so that they can work “effectively and efficiently” for their constituents.

In the proposed elector-and-elected paradigm, MPs should make the point that they have worked efficiently and effectively and met their targets.

Therefore, they should be paid a term-ending bonus in recognition and appreciation of their proven toil and moil.

Similarly, MPs should, following carefully determined and expert assessment, be recommended for end-of-term send-off bonuses by their hirers for improving their living conditions per the targets set at the beginning of their terms.

In other words, because MPs are elected to better the lives of Kenyans, their remuneration structure should be specially designed to compensate them commensurate with their level of effort monthly and then reward them for successful five-year service.

That is performance-based, people-anchored and economy-conscious contracting and remuneration.

Yes, I am suggesting that reviews of MPs’ pay and perks be pegged on the health of the economy, the performance of the tax man, national debt and, therefore, the cash available in the public purse.

As the Executive has previously denied teachers, nurses, doctors and university lecturers pay increases on account of a flat lining economy, the same standard should apply to MPs.

It is insensitive of MPs to not think about the salaries of struggling and just-getting-by Kenyans whose taxes pay their salaries when they seek their extortionate raises of pay and perks. Perhaps, all should demand a pay rise when MPs do.

It is similarly insensitive of lawmakers to not compare Kenya to developed countries as they award themselves perk after perk, year after year. It is painful that MPs want to legislate their pay while their hirers can only agitate.

Members of the British House of Commons – the Mother of Parliaments – earn a basic salary of £77,000 per annum. This translates to Sh7,700,000 if the Pound Sterling is pegged to Sh100.

A Kenyan MP earns a basic salary of Sh621,250 per month which translates to Sh7,455,000 per year. But remember this: The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy.

A Member of the German Bundestag earns a monthly salary of €9,541 which would translate to Sh1,049,510 when the Euro is tagged at Sh110.

But remember Germany boasts Europe’s strongest and world’s fourth largest economy after the US, China and Japan.

Put another way, Kenyan MPs do not live within their (country’s) means. The perks they earn push their monthly take home to more than Sh1 million. In fact, the devil in the MP remuneration package lives in the detail that is the perks and allowances. Now petted and pampered MPs want added a raft of others, including rent-free housing.

They automatically qualified for a Sh20 million house loan on being declared MPs elect. Now they want to automatically get free housing and all because they are MPs. I asked a former chief executive officer of a parastatal-turned-MP at Bunge in 2003 how the House compared to the boardroom.

He deadpanned: “There’s a lot of free money here. All you have to do is fill in a form.”

Actually, a sense of entitlement set in a long time ago.