I’m not bluffing, Kenyan MPs should earn Shs 45.5 million a month. I have a very valid reason, the same reason the MPs have always used to convince the Speaker, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Exchequer and lately the Serem’s Salaries and Remuneration Commission to award them salary increase. Remember Mr. Marende saying our MPs earn peanuts? He wasn’t wrong.
The validity of the logic has been ratified by the public too. MPs have used the same logic to calm us down whenever we threaten demonstrations against their demands for un-taxable salary increase. Thanks to this logic, our MPs are currently in the list of highest paid parliamentarians globally despite the fact that Kenya is in bottom 150 (out of 190 ranked countries) by GDP per capita, economic freedom, and other economic indices.
The logic is simple, “our constituents are poor, we need to support them in school fees, funerals and give them handouts every time they visit us at home and in our offices”, the honorable members have always argued. The same logic is now being used by the County Representatives to convince the SRC to award them a salary increase.
The argument for salary increase by MPs has always been valid. But the question is, as much as the MPs have been able to have their salaries increased every few years, are they earning enough to sufficiently take care of their poor constituents in handouts, school fees and funeral expenses?
For the purposes of an easy argument, I want to distribute Kenyans to each elected MP equally hence I’ll use the National population for the calculations to follow. We have a population of about 44 million. Close to 50% of Kenyans live below poverty line. I want to assume that 10% of Kenyans are in dire need of support for basic human needs like food and water, medication and clothing, shelter, education, etc. These 10% are those that the MPs always cite as a justification for salary increase. In actual numbers there are about 4.4 million Kenyans who need daily financial support from their respective members of parliament.
A proper support means each should be given a daily allowance of shs 100 (slightly above a dollar, the cut-point of poverty line) to take care of their basic needs. Collectively the MPs should be in a position to dish out Shs 440 million, daily, to the needy Kenyans. This comes to slightly over Shs 1.5 million per MP per day. In a month, every MP should be able to dish out shs 45 million. In additional to their half million salary, the MPs should be paid shs 45.5 million.
The shs 1.1 monthly salary and allowances that the MPs currently take home cannot fend for the millions of destitute Kenyans. If an MP takes half a million from the salary for himself, this leaves him with shs 600,000 ONLY to spend in handouts. How is he expected to raise the remaining shs 44.4 million? Clearly MPs should be able to raise this deficit one way or another and the best way is via salary increase.
But the shs 45 million (collectively shs 156.6 billion annually) needed by the MPs to give as handouts does not have to go directly to an MP’s bank account. It can be set aside as “Employment Benefits Fund” or “Destitute Allowance Fund” for the millions of Kenyans who need handouts as financial support. What needs to go the MP’s bank account is the half a million that is rightfully theirs for the hard work they do of enacting laws and debating issues of national importance; a work they do only if they have to.
Since they they will no longer need to share with their constituents part of their salary, there will be no need to transfer to their bank accounts shs 1.1 million every month except for the more than sufficient shs 0.5M. Their pay slips will however reflect shs 45.5 million, with shs 45 million indicated very clearly as handouts for their constituents – set aside in the “Destitute Allowance Fund”. The management of the “Destitute Allowance Fund” is a topic of another day.