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Hefty Salaries For Kenyan Politicians
- Tony Sisule
( Monday, May 8, 2006 )
Britain is the fourth largest economy in the world. It had an annual GDP per capita in 2005 of $30,900 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Kenya is one of the poorest countries on earth. In the same year, it had an annual GDP per capita of $1,200 in PPP terms. Britain pays its Prime Minister Sh22 million per year.
Kenya pays the Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) Sh30 million per year. And we pay our President Sh24 million per year. Kenyan ministers, their assistants and MPs, are among the highest paid anywhere in the world.
All this is happening even as we beg for money from other nations and our people die from hunger, HIV/Aids and widespread poverty. The people who really deserve pay rises, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and civil servants, get token increases after years of pleading. If there is another definition of lunacy, I would be happy to know it.
These public officials also have some of the best pension, medical, insurance and car packages on the globe. As if that is not enough, these people hardly pay any taxes, yet we have foolishly vested in them the power to determine our taxes, set their own salaries and manage state affairs.
If you want to know the devil in this scheme of things, look no further than the behaviour of MPs when a pay rise is in the air. Suddenly, the virulent enmity between ODM, NAK, Ford Kenya disappears and ardent adversaries become comrades in a heinous conspiracy.
The American revolution was partly sparked by the Boston tea party where merchants and the general public protested ‘taxation without representation’. Now since Kenyan MPs have proven that they are more interested in their own welfare that general good, I put it to them that they can no longer credibly claim to represent us.
They therefore should not be setting our taxes and drawing salaries from State coffers. The whole lot has lost credibility.
Perhaps we would not be so angry if the high pay to these public officials was matched by performance. I am afraid that the performance of these people is wanting, to say the least. If Justice Ringera succeeded in getting corrupt ministers into court as the country expects of him, perhaps he would deserve half his salary.
But the man is adept at catching only the small fish despite mounting evidence that ministers are engaged in graft. The Auditor General’s and parliamentary reports have enough information for even a rookie lawyer to get these people convicted. Perhaps we do not need the Kacc. We could simply rely on the theft laws to convict corrupt officials without the unhelpful presence of Kacc.
How about the ministers and MPs? What have they done to deserve such exalted positions and pay? And what have we done to deserve the burden of these 222 men and women? Parliament is ever lacking in quorum and ministers routinely skip question sessions.
When they do appear, they give half-baked answers to half-cooked questions. We only see them in full swing when they are flying around the country and driving the latest car models at our expense on missions merely designed to keep them in power.
I can bet there is no man or woman in this Parliament who honestly fights for the poor majority of Kenya. If there was any, s/he would have come out by now and refused to take the hefty salary or donated most of it to a worthy cause.
Kenyans must simply reject and reverse these hefty pay packages as soon as possible before the country is further bankrupted by these gluttons.
Let us do everything within our legal powers to stop this madness. We could hold protests as allowed under the law and ask individual MPs to sign a declaration rejecting the latest pay rise and accepting a reduction in their salaries and packages.
We must demand that henceforth, an independent body with representatives of ordinary citizens, organised civil society, religious bodies and the private sector, determines the salaries of the president, ministers, MPs and all senior public officials.
And all these officials must pay tax on all remuneration (salary and benefits) like the rest of us. If they refuse to pay taxes on the entire remuneration, then all of us should also not pay tax. Let us petition the President to support all these moves.
Donors should not agree to give any money to the Kenyan Government until these pay packages are reviewed downwards. And in the forthcoming elections, let us vote out all elected officials who refuse to support these changes.
* The writer is a consultant in the UK
Photo Above: Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
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