Capital FM (Nairobi)

9 October 2012

Kenya: Kibaki Stands With Kenyans, Rejects Sh2.1b MPs Bonus

Photo: Laban Wanambisi/Capital FM
Parliament puts up a spirited fight in defence of their salaries.

Nairobi — President Mwai Kibaki has declined to assent to the amended Finance Bill (2012) that was passed by Parliament on Thursday October 4, 2012.

The amendment awarded parliamentarians a severance pay of Sh9.3 million each.

The pay award would have cost the taxpayer a total of Sh2.1 billion.

"The president objected to the amendment on the grounds that it was first unconstitutional, and secondly untenable in the prevailing economic circumstances in the country," a statement from State House said.

The president said that coming shortly after the increment of salaries for teachers and doctors, the severance pay for parliamentarians would lead to an unsustainable wage bill at a time when the country requires massive resources to implement the new constitution and meet other competing demands in the economy.

In the meantime, the Head of State has assented to the amendment in the electoral laws extending the period to January 4, 2013 during which Members of Parliament should have chosen the political party on which to seek nomination and contest a political seat in the forthcoming general elections.

The president's decision came hours after demonstrators marched in the Kenyan capital over the lawmakers' move.

Analysts said a worker earning the national minimum wage would have to work for 61 years in order to earn the amount the MPs have voted to pay themselves.

"It is totally ridiculous for the MPs to award themselves such an amount of money," said Morris Odhiambo, who helped organise the demonstration.

The demonstrators, waving placards with messages such as "MPs are thieves" and "greedy hyenas," marched through central Nairobi to Parliament.

"We want them to know that the public mood is against this unjustified increment," said Robert Alai, another of the organisers.

Kenyan lawmakers are already some of the best paid on the continent, with a tax-free monthly salary of some $13,000.

"It is totally ridiculous for the MPs to award themselves such an amount of money," said Morris Odhiambo, who helped organise the demonstration.

Each of the 222 members and the speaker would get $110,800 (85,700 euro) as a sendoff package at the end of their current term.

"How come our teachers had to strike for three weeks to get a salary hike, yet within a single sitting the MPs could easily increase their remuneration," Odhiambo said. "So where is the Sh2 billion going to come from?"

Rights groups, including Transparency International and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, said in a joint statement the move was "extremely disturbing" and broke constitutional rules.

The statement called on Kenyans to let lawmakers "know that they are not willing to foot the cost of their greed."

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