A push by Kenyan lawmakers to increase their perks two months after the government raised taxes on various products and services to shore up its revenues has angered citizens.
The Members of Parliament (MPs) want to be given house allowance, car grants, their vehicles to fuelled and their third and second wives to be covered by government insurance, among other benefits.
The 416 legislators in the east African nation’s parliament that comprise of both Senate and the National Assembly are united in purpose and are keen to pass a bill containing the proposals as early as next Tuesday.
Proponents of the higher perks are arguing that MPs are elected from different parts of the country and do most of their work in Nairobi where they attend parliament, therefore, must be given house allowance.
Currently, the legislators are offered a 20 million shillings (196,078 U.S. dollars) mortgage at 3 percent, the cheapest in the market.
Kenyan MPs earn up to 19,600 dollars every month in salary, allowances and mileage claims, with the perks ranked as one of the highest across the world.
“Most MPs come from outside Nairobi. How are we expected to live in Nairobi without a house allowance?” posed Peter Kaluma, an opposition MP.
“Give me a car to transport me from Nairobi to my constituency. I want to serve my people,” he added.
The MPs are pushing for the demands despite President Uhuru Kenyatta beseeching them to put the country’s interests first.
“… first as leaders, we must ensure that we have improved lives of citizens,” said Kenyatta on Monday.
Kenyans have reacted angrily to this push, accusing the MPs of selfishness and ignoring the plight of the common person.
“Do these MPs know that there are Kenyans who earn 100 dollars, inclusive of house allowance? This is a shame,” said Mathews Ahito, a jobless graduate.
He noted that MPs who feel they are not better paid should resign and look for other jobs.
“The country cannot even create jobs for the youth because it is using lots of its resources on salaries instead of development. This should end,” he said.
“We should reduce their salaries and reduce the number of MPs. They should use their own cars and buy houses from their salaries, not to burden us every time,” said Dickson Wafula on Twitter.
“Some leaders don’t listen to themselves first before speaking out. With all the salaries MPs earn, one can still stand confidently and ask for more. There are so many Kenyans out there that suffering,” said Ordinary Citizen.
Henry Wandera, economics lecturer in Nairobi, said the move by MPs comes at the worst time as most citizens struggle to survive.
“Kenyans are grappling with high taxes on fuel products, bank and mobile money services after the government raised them in September following the passage of the bill by the same MPs. To turn around and demand higher perks casts them in bad light,” he said. Enditem