The speaker of Kenya’s parliament says he will be holding talks Thursday with legislators to resolve the stalemate surrounding the controversial pay increase for members of parliament.
Kenneth Marende, who is also chairman of the parliamentary service commission, said there is a need to put to rest once and for all the impasse between the legislature and the executive over the proposed pay hike for lawmakers.
Kenya's parliament debate taxing allowances and salaries of lawmakers
“What is expected in the discussion is the fate of the remuneration package of the members of the 10th parliament. What the meeting today seeks to do is to provide a solution to the standoff so that the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of both members of parliament and the executive,” he said.
Earlier this month, Kenyan lawmakers passed a report raising their salaries from Sh851, 000 ($10,411.82) to Sh1.1 million ($13,455.76).
But, critics, as well as civil society groups, condemned the sharp increase describing the move as illegal after accusing the legislators of refusing to pay taxes on their salaries and allowances.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga also said that the pay hike was unfair adding that it sends the wrong signal to the entire population.
The increase comes ahead of the referendum that will pave way for the implementation of Kenya’s new constitution.
Experts say the new constitution stipulates that members of parliament will not be able to arbitrarily increase their own salaries.
Parliament Speaker Marende said some groups are simply opposed to any form of pay increase for legislators.
“The reason it generated controversy is that civil society in particular is of the view that there are greater national priorities than addressing that matter of review of members of parliament salaries. And, they are also laboring under the notion that this review is going to result in an increase rather than a harmonization to ensure that members of the 10th parliament pay full tax,” Marende said.
Legislators adopted the Akiwumi report that was recently tabled in parliament by the parliamentary service commission proposing an increase in lawmakers’ salaries before they could agree to have their allowances taxed.
Kenya media reported that, under the proposed increase, Prime Minister Odinga is expected to earn a monthly income of $40,000. But, the prime minister rejected the proposed hike saying he was satisfied with his original pay.
Critics say the proposed pay hike puts Kenyan lawmakers among the world’s best paid members of parliament.
But, Speaker Marende said Kenyan legislators are satisfied with their currently salaries and allowances without being overly taxed.