Most MPs have found themselves between a rock and a hard place after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s appeal to public and state officers to voluntarily take a pay cut to aid in the fight against the coronavirus disease. The local Daily, the Star reported.
This is after President Uhuru announced that he and his deputy Presi William Ruto had volunteered to take an 80 per cent pay reduction, with Cabinet Secretaries and Chief Administrative Secretaries agreeing to a 30 percent of their salaries slashed.
The Star in its revelation, established that most of the lawmakers are opposed to the voluntary salary deductions but are not coming out for fear of a backlash from the electorate.
In an interview with several members of the National Assembly and senators conducted by the Star, it was found out that a majority said slashing their pay will take a heavy toll on them economically as they are servicing huge loans they took at the beginning of the term of the 12th Parliament.
“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,” a first-term ODM lawmaker said in confidence.
A Wiper MP was against the idea of taking a salary cut but could not go on record for fear of being branded insensitive to the plight of Kenyans.
“Please, don’t quote me but that is the truth. I, and not only me, most of us, we cannot go public on that. It will be detrimental. People will say we are insensitive,” the legislator said.
Awendo MP Walter Owino and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said it would be impractical for every member to take a pay reduction owing to the huge loans they are repaying.
“Some of us have commitments which may not allow us to take cuts. Let the Treasury retain the five per cent relief in our income tax,” Owino said.
Mutula cautioned that a blanket pay cut will punish some of them and instead proposed budget readjustments to free some cash for the fight against the virus.
“The only thing members can surrender is the allowances they collect from Parliament. We can free between Sh2 billion and Sh2.5 billion from travel, meetings, catering and conference allocations and channel it towards equipping hospitals and hiring of medical personnel,” he said.
On Thursday, speakers Kenneth Lusaka (Senate) and Justin Muturi (National Assembly) announced taking a 30 per cent pay cut and said negotiations were ongoing on how individual members could sacrifice part of their salaries.
Source: The Star