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With Election Near, Kenya Announces Salary Cuts for Top Officials

FILE - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta delivers his speech during an event unveiling the Jubilee Party's manifesto in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya said on Monday that it was cutting the salaries of top officials, including the president and lawmakers, and slashing their allowances, saving the East African economy 8.5 billion shillings ($81.90 million) annually.

The announcement comes ahead of elections on Aug. 8 when Kenya chooses a president, lawmakers and other regional officials, and is certain to be viewed favorably by the average Kenyan voter who sees members of parliament in particular as symbols of a greedy political culture.

In 2013, the lawmakers, even then among the world's best-paid lawmakers, voted to increase their salaries to more than 130 times the minimum wage in defiance of government plans to cut them as part of spending reforms.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission, which advises the government on the wages of public sector officials, said members of parliament would now earn 621,250 shillings a month down from 710,000 shillings previously.

It said the president's salary would be cut to 1.44 million shillings a month from 1.65 million shillings, while his deputy will earn 1.23 million shillings from 1.4 million shillings.

"To ensure that the desired public services are delivered in a cost-effective and fiscally sustainable manner will require effective management of wage bill spending," the SRC said in a statement.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking re-election in August, said in March that the overall wage bill had to be cut.

He said salaries consumed half of all revenues and were impeding spending on development projects in Kenya, a country mired in poverty where the unemployment rate stands at about 40 percent.