The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende on Thursday urged Kenyans to change their perception that Members of Parliament earn astronomical salaries.
Speaking during the launch of a job evaluation exercise for State and constitutional office holders, he said MPs have numerous taxing roles and deserve good pay.
"It would be paradoxical if not outright anachronistic for MPs playing this classical perhaps unprecedented oversight role to be less remunerated than all the State officers and commissioners that they vet into office and hold to account," he said.
He said it was worrying that Kenyans feel that the Sh1.5 million MPs earn is a lot yet their pay is similar to that of commissioners in other State institutions.
"The average remuneration package for a MP is a gross of Sh851,000. The Commissioner General of the Kenya Revenue Authority, who reports to Parliament through the Ministry of Finance, earns a monthly salary of Sh800,000 and an allowance of Sh700,000 making a total of Sh1.5 million. Commissioners of the Kenya Revenue Authority earn an average of Sh1 million," he explained.
He expressed concerns that legislators were an easy target (for ridicule) and appealed for sobriety and understanding of the complex and diverse roles they play as legislators, constituency representatives which require them to assist even the destitute in their areas.
According to Marende, MPs should be well paid to attract professionals in the career since they play a crucial role that requires professionalism.
"If we feel that maintaining the legislature is an expensive thing that we cannot afford, then try dictatorship or military rule," Marende said referring to a past quote in his quest to justify why MPs earn what is termed as above average.
The chairperson of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission Sarah Serem said the evaluation exercise being undertaken will determine how public officers should be remunerated.
She noted it will also be seeking to harmonise pay perks to overcome huge differences in state and constitutional offices.
Serem also said all stakeholders including MPs will be interviewed by the commission in efforts to overcome challenges that have led to discomfort and unrests by public office holders. In this, MPs will also substantiate why they earn what they earn for the commission to review.
"The outcome of this exercise will determine effective management of remuneration in this country. It will determine the comparable worth of the offices and produce a rationalized, harmonized, defensible and equitable grading structure for state offices," she said.
The commission is mandated to regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers. It is also expected to address disparities and ensure the government gives competitive remuneration to match the global marked.