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Deal to pay more for Kenya MPs in the pipeline

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (left) is sworn in as chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission on April 3, 2013. With him is former parliamentary defence committee chairman Aden Keynan. Mr Muturi said talks on MPs’ salaries are on-going

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (left) is sworn in as chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission on April 3, 2013. With him is former parliamentary defence committee chairman Aden Keynan. Mr Muturi said talks on MPs’ salaries are on-going

Parliament is in talks with the salaries commission to hammer out a deal on MPs’ pay.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on Wednesday said the outcome of the talks would be made public.

“We should allow the negotiations to go on,” Mr Muturi said after being sworn in as chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission, which is spearheading the talks with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Last week, MPs demanded higher pay and threatened to bring a Motion in Parliament to disband the salaries commission if their pay is not increased.

The salaries team had earlier in the year indicated that members of the 11th Parliament would earn less than their counterparts in the 10th.

On Wednesday, Mr Muturi said that both the salaries and the parliamentary commissions were independent constitutional bodies.

The parliamentary commission is under pressure from legislators to engage the salaries commission, because, they say that Sh532,500 salary for an MP or Senator is insufficient to support the loans they are entitled to.

If the negotiations fail, the lawmakers have threatened to amend the Constitution and the salaries commission Act. To do this, they would need a two-thirds majority in both Houses.

MPs are entitled to a car loan of Sh7 million, and a mortgage of Sh20 million, both to be repaid at three per cent interest by June 2017. The MPs would have to repay the loan in four years and three months.

If an MP takes all the loans, they would have to repay between Sh545,000 and Sh570,000 a month from their taxable pay of Sh532,500.

Their calculations show that if the salaries commission refuses to budge, MPs will be Sh210,000 in the red – and that’s just to meet their loan obligations.

Of course, they do not have to take all the loans, but their arguments are premised on the entitlements.

The parliamentary commission deals with the welfare of MPs, and it will be its job to convince the salaries commission, taxpayers and the Treasury that the lawmakers need more money, and that the government can afford to shoulder that cost.

The salaries team reduced the pay of MPs from Sh851,000 a month to a minimum of Sh532,500 to reduce pressure on the public wage bill.

Senate clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye was sworn in as the parliamentary commission secretary after National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi relinquished the seat.

For a balance of power between the Senate and the National Assembly, the Constitution distributed the chairman’s seat to the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the secretary’s seat to the Clerk of the Senate.

The Constitution gives the salaries commission the monopoly to set the pay of all State Officers and advise the Public Service Commission and the Parliamentary Service Commission on pay structure.

The Constitution also prohibits any public official from tax exemptions. Previously, MPs would not pay tax on their perks.

But all that changed when the Finance Act of last year was approved, allowing the taxman to collect taxes from MPs’ gross pay.

The pay of MPs was first raised in 2003 after a commission led by retired Chief Justice Abdul Majid Cockar recommended that their pay be increased from Sh395,033 to Sh851,000.-Nation

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