31 May 2013

Kenya: MPs Plot to Slash Uhuru's Salary

MEMBERS of the National Assembly yesterday threatened to cut the salaries of all public servants including the President by nearly 60 percent.

The MPs spoke as Justice David Majanja issued an order stopping the Parliamentary Service Commission from effected the old salaries which MPs are demanding.

At a media conference in Parliament, the legislators led by Cord's John Mbandi and Jubilee's Jimmy Angwenyi said reducing salaries of all public servants will save the country nearly 17 billion shillings that can be used to develop the country.

"If we must cut salaries of MPs, then we must cut salaries of all public servants by 57 percent starting with the President, his Deputy and all commissioners," said Angwenyi.

"There are those who think that Parliament has no power. Let them wait and see what it will do starting Tuesday," said Mbadi.

He said the MPs have unanimously agreed that all Kenyans earning below Sh50,000 should be exempted from taxes. They also plan to lower the rate of VAT, Income tax and fuel levy taxes.

PAYE will start from Sh60,000 and it will be graduated from 10 to 25 per cent to ensure that the rich pay more than the poor.

But the head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Wabukala, told MPs that they were not above the law.

"State Officers must recognize that the authority bestowed to them is a public trust worth respectability and any exploitation is translated as abuse of power," he said.

"Parliamentarians should note that a public officer is elected for public service and not personal gain. The Anglican Church of Kenya wishes to remind the people of Kenya that all State officers, including MPs are not exempt from the rule of law and the Constitution is Supreme and binds all," said Wabukala.

The MPs also dismissed the insistence of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and the Constitutional and Implementation Commission that they stick to their new slaary of Sh532,000 per month. They laughed off threats to surcharge staff of the Parliamentary Service Commission if anything more was paid.

MPs from all sides yesterday defended their action as "perfectly within the law", the day after they voted overwhelmingly to annul a gazette notice setting their new salaries.

They declared that Parliament "is under siege" and complained that its authority has been ridiculed after its staff were threatened with prosecution if they pay salaries higher than recommended by the SRC.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of dragging the salary debate into the media and advised him to explore dialogue.

Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi declared that from Tuesday next week they will start a process "to make life bearable to a majority of Kenyans".

Tigania West MP Mpuru Aburi said MPs were fighting for their rights.

"To bring down corruption in the management of CDFs, MPs must be paid well. We want to enjoy what the 10th parliament enjoyed," said Aburi.

Gideon Mwiti (Imenti Central) said that the government should embrace dialogue and not speak through the media.

"The president should stop these venues discussing MPs salaries as if he has nothing important to do because the salaries are confidential. The SRC should work with the PSC to find an amicable solution," Mwiti said at Parliament buildings.

Meanwhile a case challenging the county assembly salaries has been referred to the Industrial Court to be heard before Justice Nduma Nderi. The judge directed that the applicant serves the SRC and the Attorney General with the necessary documents before the hearing today.

Embu county Speaker Justus Mate moved to court to block the SRC decision on salaries.

His lawyer Evans Ondieki said only the court can interpret the law on salaries and that he will be seeking an interpretation on whether parliament can sit as a court in itself.

Mate wants the court to temporarily stop any decision by the SRC that will interfere with the salaries of county representatives, speakers, senators, women representatives, MPs and governors until his case is determined.

The case was filed under a certificate of urgency in reaction to a gazette notice published on March 1 setting the new salaries.

"The commission also ignored a critical factor that devolution is a major component of the development agenda and for top notch professionals to relocate their families to the devolved governments there is need for proper remuneration commensurate to the challenges," he states.

Mate claims re-elected MPs should earn Sh810,000. He wants an order declaring the gazette notice illegal. Mate also wants the court to order that the commission can only recommend but not determine salaries.

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