New pay hike for MPs
By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU
Thursday, January 7 2010 at 20:00
The salaries of Members of Parliament are to be increased from Sh851,000 a month to Sh896,000 a month, a tribunal appointed by the House has recommended.
In addition, MPs pay will be increased by five per cent every year to cushion them against a rise in the cost of living and their allowances for sitting in parliament have been doubled.
And Prime Minister Raila Odinga is to earn Sh1.67 million every month, some Sh350,000 more than Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka the tribunal says, settling a vexing quarrel over who is President Kibakis second-in-command.
But MPs will pay more tax, after their taxed basic salary was increased from Sh200,000 to Sh350,000. The bulk of their income made up of allowances will however not be taxed and, according to the tribunal, cannot be taxed until the law is changed.
The tribunal, chaired by retired Appellate Judge Akilano Akiwumi, agonised over awarding a pay rise for MPs in the face of public hostility and an economy in recession. Indeed, the the tribunal gives eloquent reasons why a salary increase at this time is not wise.
The increase has been achieved by removing one of the MPs three car allowances, adding part of it to the basic pay and spreading the rest to other allowances.
All other allowances have been increased, some such as sitting allowance, more than twice.
The tribunal appears to have been of a divided mind, on the one hand it dwells at length on the reasons for not giving a salary increase, but at the same time felt MPs do an important job and should be paid well.
Its report, as a result, is complicated and it will take many days for its full import to be understood.
But when everything is boiled down, MPs have been given a pay rise even though it will not appear in their payslips. This will come from the allowance members are paid to attend Parliament and its committees.
According to the tribunals estimates, a hardworking MP who attends all sessions and some committee meetings will make Sh375,000, over and above his salary of Sh896,000, theoretically bringing the total pay for such an MP to Sh1,271,000 a month.
The tribunal concludes that the increase of the car allowance in 2005 from Sh336,000 to Sh366,000 a month was illegal because the law was not followed in awarding it
At the time, MPs threatened the Clerk of the National Assembly that unless he obtained permission from Treasury for the increase, they would not vote for the Supplementary Budget then before the House. Treasury officials tricked MPs into believing that the increment had been approved while in actual fact it had not.
The tribunal concludes that there are too many allowances paid for the maintenance of just one car but does not take any of them away. Instead, it makes proposals which will allow MPs a little more tax and still be left a little better off.
The tribunals report was handed over to Speaker Kenneth Marende on November 15 last year but has not yet been made public.