Kenya’s public wage bill has been growing at an alarming rate and is already proving to be taxing to the economy.
The entrance of devolution as prescribed by the 2010 new constitution further bloated the wage bill, which experts say poses a threat to the country’s economic growth.
A special audit report on the economic impact of the new constitution has revealed that it costs the country 115 times more to maintain political leaders under the new constitution.
According to the report, this cost has been pushed by the exorbitant salaries earned by MPs, the cost of running a bicameral parliament and the over-representation of Kenyans.
Kenyan MPs are among the best paid in the globe, ironically earning way high than their counterparts from developed nations.
According to a study by the UK-based Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the basic pay of Kenyan legislators, which excludes allowances, is 76 times Kenya’s GDP per capita of Sh84,624.
Kenyan politicians, wenyenchi, earn a basic salary of Sh6.39 million per year yet Kenya’s per capita income is much lower than that of developed countries.
Kenya’s 11th parliament (418 members) is said to consume slightly above two percent of the national budget compared to 0.88 per cent of the tenth parliament.
MPs will pocket Sh 6.7 million each at the end of their 5-year term ahead of the 2017 elections in August.
Excessively high public wages increase recurrent expenditure and reduce the amount government can spend on development and also trigger unsustainable borrowing.
The other day there was a public outcry on the heavy borrowing by the jubilee government after details emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government borrowed a total of Sh 226.78 billion (sh 843m per day) between January and July 2016 (212 days), stretching an already huge public debt, which stands at Sh 3.2 trillion.
The cost of devolution is proving to be too much for the Kenyan taxpayer to bear, especially thanks to the duplication of roles at the national and county government levels.
Auditor-general Edward Ouko and hs team have recommended that the country scales down the number of MPs and MCAs.