The Star (Nairobi)

16 May 2013

Kenya: 88 Percent Back Pay Cut for MPs

Majority of Kenyans want MPs to accept the pay package proposed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

According to a telephone poll conducted last week by Ipsos Synovate involving a sample of 1,660 people living in the rural and urban areas, 88 per cent said they supported the decision by the SRC to revise downwards the MPs pay package.

Only 11 percent of those sampled did not approve the reduction of MPs pay by SRC, whereas one percent were not aware about the controversy.

A senior research analyst with Ipsos Synovate, Tom Wolf, said more than half of those sampled - 59 per cent - said the reason they were opposed to the salaries being increased was because it was unfair for the MPs to draw huge salaries while majority of the Kenyans were suffering.

The SRC has recommended that MPs receive a gross salary of Sh531,000 down from the Sh851,000 which their predecessors in the Tenth Parliament were earning.

"Twenty two per cent of those sampled stated that the government or Treasury cannot afford it as it will increase an already expanding public debt. Another 10 per cent feel that the MPs were aware of the reduction before they contested and therefore should not raise this issue now," Wolf said.

He said four per cent stated the more modest salary would discourage greedy individuals from running for Parliament in future. 48 per cent of those who support the MPs demands said it was unfair for the current MPs to earn less than their predecessors in the Tenth Parliament.

Another 23 per cent stated the decision to reduce the MPs salaries was unfair as it did not apply to other senior police officials while another 12 per cent opposed the reduction saying the controversy would interrupt parliamentary business and cause delays in running the government.

One of the reasons MPs have been citing for demanding an enhanced salary is that they spend most of their money on handouts to their constituents.

However, according to the poll, only nine per cent of those sampled said they had benefitted from direct financial assistance offered by the MPs.

Surprisingly, even those who had received financial help from their MPs -- paying schools fees for their children, medial, funeral or business capital--said they were in support of the SRC's proposed pay structure.

"Most Kenyans--86 percent-- are of the view that SRC should continue with their work according to the constitution but 8 percent would rather that it be disbanded. Five percent didn't have an opinion," Wolf said.

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