No doubt Wanachi will think of the slogan “Navumilia Kuwa Mkenya” as they witness our politicians (Wenyenchi) rewarding themselves with huge pay at the expense of the taxpayers who are struggling day and night to make ends meet in the face of tough economic times.
The creation of The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) cast a ray of hope on beleaguered Kenyans; finally an independent body had been put in place to control and lay down salaries for the public officers but judging from the recent turn of events, the Sarah Serem commission has left a lot to be desired.
MPS WIN BATTLE FOR A MILLION A MONTH
It first started with MPs just barely two months in office, following the March 4th elections, lobbying for higher pay in disapproval of SRC’S intentions to slash their salaries from Sh851,000 to Sh532,000. This led to a salary row dispute that dragged on for three months with the SRC ultimately giving in to MPs demands at the end.
As a result, MPs will now be making close to 1million a month. The 616 mps, 349 members of the National Assembly and 67 senators will now be paid a taxable monthly salary of Sh532,000 which is set to increase by Sh44,375 every year. The salary also comes with hefty allowances which includes among other things, a Sh5 million car grant and a weekly mileage allowance of Sh109 per kilometer up to a maximum of 750 kilometers.
A ZERO HERE AND ANOTHER THERE FATTENS COUNTRY REPS CHEQUES
County Representatives had also come out publicly to protest at their Sh79, 200 monthly salaries as set by SRC and threatened to paralyze county assemblies if their demands were not met and true to their word they did exactly that.
In a similar deal that was agreed last week between SRC and the Parliamentary Commission, which Kenyans termed as a “mockery of the salary review process,” (READ MORE) the SRC agreed to award County Reps more allowances which include a mileage allowance of Sh20,000, special duty allowances and an increase in the number of committee sittings from a maximum of four to eight per week.
Through this, the county reps will be able to earn up to Sh200,000 a month if not more. A house allowance to be determined through job evaluation is set to be included in the pay as well and the SRC also agreed to review the Sh79,200 monthly salary within three months. So this means by the end of the year, the Country Reps basic monthly salary of 79,200 will perhaps have doubled if not tripled.
COUNTY ASSEMBLIES CASH IN
There are 1,500 elected and 722 nominated members of County Assemblies and the salary deal that was settled in court will cost the taxpayers up to Sh444 million to pay the members of the 47 county assemblies.
In addition, Speakers of the County Assemblies will enjoy official transport provided by the Assembly and the rates for subsistence allowances for overseas travel have been harmonized with those of Civil Servants working for the UN.
The county assembly members had moved to the industrial court arguing that the SRC had failed to address the constitutional issues regarding human rights, equality, freedoms, democracy, social justice and the rule of law in the setting of their salaries.
COUNTY BUDGETS: SH 72 MILLION FOR LUXURY CARS IN KISUMU…
In Kisumu County, the Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is doing a very good job – for some. The committee approved an allocation of Sh72 million to purchase a fleet of 12 Toyota Prados for the executive. In addition, another Sh15 million has been set aside for the operational of the luxurious vehicles.
“The roads here are impassable and a normal Passat cannot make it here”, one of the Members was quoted saying.
Another Sh10 million has also been set aside for the renovation of the Governor’s residential house. Governor Jackton Ranguma is alleged to be currently residing at a first class hotel in the town, where a VIP room goes for Sh12,000 per night.
… BUT CUT BACKS ON LAKE VICTORIA
So focused on the county’s development is the committee that they found no problem in setting aside 72 billion for luxuries cars but have the audacity to comfortably reject an allocation of Sh100 million for the eradication of hyacinth weed from Lake Victoria by county executives and to also demand for an explanation as to why in the proposed budget, the executive had allocated Sh6 million for the construction of youth polytechnics.
The eight member committee comprising Mr Wilis Mindeu (Chair), James Were, Samuel Ong’ou, Edwin Anayo, Isaya Onyango, Caroline Owen, James Diang’a and Petronila Omondi, certainly need a kick in the back side.
The budget is to be tabled before the County Assembly for approval by members but to say that the budget has misplaced priorities is an understatement. We can only hope that the Wanachi of Kisumu County can stand up against this misappropriation of funds by their shortsighted leaders.
This Kenya Forum correspondent also further recommends Governor Jackton Ranguma to take note of the good work that Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Nairobi’s Governor Evans Kidero are doing for their respective counties and stop vegetating in his VIP hotel room.
BUNGOMA COUNTY AND THE SH50 MILLION FIGHT AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY
As if reading from the same script, Bungoma County’s Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee unveiled its budget which is equally ridiculous as that of Kisumu County.
In the budget, Sh50 million and Sh500,000 has been allocated for the Governor and the speakers’ entertainment respectively, Sh30 million for the speaker’s residence, Sh3 million for the land and Sh1 million for the speakers regalia. (The speaker’s regalia consist of fine or decorative clothing indicative of royalty.) In addition to this, another Sh112 million has been set aside for the purchase of 28 vehicles.
In the same budget, Sh50 million had been set aside to fight pornography but according to the Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka, who appeared on citizen TV yesterday, the amount has been passed on to something else.
Bungoma County Governor Ken Lusaka
Shamelessly, when News Anchor Hussein Mohamed asked the Governor why 1million has been set aside for the Speaker’s regalia and whether it is really necessary, Lusaka argued that the committee must have window shopped around for the market price of such regalia before allocating the cost. He further defended the allocation of Sh53 million for his entertainment saying that it wasn’t his alone.
“Part of this entertainment for instance is the cost you have to incur when you have guests visiting the county. You need money to host them”, Lusaka said during the interview.
Devolution is indeed expensive, and if this trend is anything to go by, we cannot expect much development in some of these counties, it will be politics as usual as greedy politicians fatten their pockets before the next elections at the expense of their constituents.