Uhuru urges MPs to rethink defiance on pay
30 May 2013, 10:16
Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged MPs to accept a planned pay cut after they defied him and voted to raise their salaries.
The President had said cutting lawmakers' salaries would ease public sector wage demands and free up cash for investment aimed at stimulating economic growth.
But instead of accepting a cut imposed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), Parliament voted on Tuesday for a pay rise, in a show of open rebellion to the President who has no power to enforce the wage reduction.
"This continuing paralysis is not in the national interest and it is imperative that this matter be brought to an appropriate and sustainable conclusion within the law," he said in a statement.
President Uhuru said he and members of his office would take the cut set by SRC, and urged MPs to follow suit.
Already among the world's best-paid lawmakers, MPs on both sides of the house voted overwhelmingly for higher pay, overturning the commission's legal notice, saying their pay cut had been illegally implemented.
They raised their pay to an average of KES 851,000 ($10,000) a month, compared to KES 532,000 set by the salary team, giving them 130 times the minimum wage of KES 6,498 ($76).
They argue that they need high wages because constituents expect them to provide charitable support. Some also say that lawmakers could be vulnerable to bribes in Parliamentary votes if their salaries were too low.
The salary increase could trigger wage pressure from representatives in the country's newly-demarcated counties, as well as teachers, police, and doctors, economists say.
The Parliamentary vote angered the public and civic rights groups which said they would challenge it in court.
President Kenyatta is keen to trim the public sector wage bill which now stands at 50 percent of annual government tax revenue.
His coalition has promised to deliver free maternity care, laptops to primary school children, better roads and a million new jobs a year in a country of 40 million people where unemployment runs at 40 percent.