Some Kenyan Members of Parliament (MPs) are finding it hard to accept the President’s appeal that they should take a voluntary pay cut so as to cushion the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that he had agreed with his deputy, William Ruto that they would take 80 percent pay cut to help Kenyan during this tough economic time.
The President urged other state officials to volunteer and have a pay cut where Members of parliament were told to give 30 percent of their salaries.
The Kenyan MPs who are among the highest-paid state officials in the world, take home 1.3 million shillings every month. Deducting 30 percent from their salaries will leave the lawmakers with over 910,000 shillings every month.
However, the MPs argue that the 30 percent cut will not favor them since most of them are still struggling to service some huge loans they borrowed.
The lawmakers who are against the 30 percent pay cut said they fear coming out public since Kenyans would term them insensitive.
“My brother, some of us take home only Sh50, 000 per month. If I was to accept a deduction, then my family will not eat. That is what it basically means,” said one ODM MP.
The lawmakers want the treasury to step in and save the economy by retaining the five percent relief in their income tax.
“Some of us have commitments that may not allow us to take cuts. Let the Treasury retain the five percent relief in our income tax,” said Awendo MP Walter Owino.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo junior suggests that the Government should instead use the allowances and other benefits state officials enjoy and not their salaries.
“The only thing members can surrender is the allowances they collect from Parliament. We can free between 2 billion shillings and 2.5 billion shillings from travel, meetings, catering and conference allocations and channel it towards equipping hospitals and hiring of medical personnel,” Senator Kilonzo argued.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and his counterpart from the National Assembly, Justin Muturi announced that they had volunteered to take the 30 percent pay cut. The speakers said negotiations among the parliamentarians are ongoing.