Kenyan MPs have unanimously passed the report raising their salaries from Sh851,000 to Sh1.1 million after a short debate Wednesday.
At 5.16pm, Mr Luka Kigen (Rongai, ODM) rose to block any other MP –none had sought to catch the Speaker’s eye anyway—from contributing and instead asked temporary deputy Speaker Gitobu Imanyara to allow the mover of the motion, Mr Walter Nyambati (Kitutu Masaba, NLP), to put an end to the debate.
Mr Nyambati duly obliged, Mr Imanyara put the matter to a verbal vote and the 40MPs in the House excitedly shouted their unanimous ‘aye’.
MPs John Mbadi (Gwassi, ODM) and Simon Mbugua (Kamukunji, PNU) intimated to their colleagues to conclude their contributions quickly.
Treasury now will have to look for money to foot the increased monthly bill for the honourable members. And within seven days, MPs are ready to endorse three Bills to ensure they get their money.
The lawmakers have no apologies for the huge perks that they approved Wednesday, because from those who spoke during the debate, "there’s no adequate remuneration for MPs".
Mr Nyambati, the Parliamentary Service Commission vice chairman, set the tone for the adoption of the report.
“Human nature is that employers want to pay less to their employees; while the employees want more to justify the work done. We need to balance these two,” he said. “It will be unjust to reduce the remuneration of MPs half-way through their (five-year) contract.”
The joint whip, Mr Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem, ODM) seconded the motion and blamed liars for spreading rumours and giving the public a “wrong impression of their leaders".
He then backed the retirement package for the Prime Minister, the Vice President and the Speaker: “We can’t afford to have (retired) public servants beg, after serving this country.”
“The retired vice presidents are living on goodwill. Let’s recognise that if Kalonzo Musyoka retires today, he’ll have no retirement package.”
Dr Boni Khalwale (Ikolomani, New Ford Kenya) termed the pay rise as “a move towards restoring honour to the profession of politics".
He thanked the tribunal for exempting some of the allowances from taxation and proposed that the amount could have been more.
“This Sh95,000 (for car allowance) is nothing compared to what is required to replace the entire suspension system of your car if you go home every week,” said Dr Khalwale
He asked two MPs –Johnstone Muthama (Kang’undo, ODM-K) and Peter Kenneth (Gatanga, PNU)—to legitimately join Parliament in remitting their taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority. The two MPs began paying tax due to public pressure to have the lawmakers’ perks taxed.
Mr Martin Ogindo (Rangwe, ODM), Mr Abdul Bahari (Isiolo South, Kanu) and assistant minister Aden Duale supported the perks saying MPs “did a lot of work".
“In my view, the amount of money you pay an MP cannot compensate for the heavy responsibility that they shoulder in economic, political and social development of this country,” said Mr Duale.
“Nowhere in this world has public opinion been used to reduce the salary of a person.”