Saturday, November 29, 2008




By Patrick Wachira and Athman Amran

If the road to riches were a footpath, Parliament is the highway to the gravy train.

MPs’ perks are more impressive than those of many legislators in the developed world.

This is almost tragic in a country with starving people and an ailing economy.

With their salary and allowances reaching the Sh850,000 scale, plus a Sh3.6 million car grant, MPs lead plush lives that many can only dream of.

The emoluments include Sh200,000 basic salary, Sh75,000 minimum commuted mileage allowance, Sh30,000 extraneous allowance to "take care of unexpected expenses in the line of duty", Sh60,000 entertainment allowance, Sh70,000 house allowance and a monthly car maintenance allowance of Sh247,000.

The mileage is calculated at Sh115 a kilometre to visit their constituency, never mind that majority spend most of their time savouring the finer aspects of city life. There is also a Sh2,000 allowance for paying for a gym, in spite of the modern gym at Continental House (part of Parliament Buildings), which features a sauna and Jacuzzi.

More allowances

Further, they get Sh336,000 as vehicle fixed cost allowance, a monthly committee meeting attendance allowance of Sh40,000 and Sh50,000 constituency allowance. There is also Sh10 million loan, interest free, to buy a house.

Much as the MPs say the hike in their allowances was a result of a tribunal report by former Chief Justice Majid Cockar, who chaired a tribunal that reviewed the salary and emoluments, the increments cannot be justified.

And if going to the august House is an enterprise, then the Kenya National Assembly should take the prize for entrepreneurship. While MPs don’t want their more than Sh800,000 to be taxed, the lowest earning civil servant, who now has a starting salary of Sh7,829, after a recent increment, has to pay tax or face the law.

The lowest paid teacher in the public sector earns about Sh11,180 a month while the highest paid, the chief principal, earns around Sh36,690. The lowest paid nurse gets Sh11,518 a month.

In the police force, constables get Sh11,010 as basic starting salary a month, while superintendents get Sh23,165 a month.