Defiant Kenyan MPs vote against pay cuts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 2:12am

Kenyan members of parliament, already among the world's best-paid legislators, voted yesterday to increase their salaries in defiance of government plans to cut them as part of public spending reforms.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won a closely fought March 4 election on an economic growth agenda, has implored lawmakers to accept pay cuts and help rein in public sector salaries to free up cash to create jobs.

The president has no direct power to determine MP salaries, and the legislators' decision is expected to be challenged in court by civic rights groups.

The lawmakers' move to overturn a reduction in their pay decided by the state Salaries and Remuneration Commission has caused grassroots anger that has led to street protests.

But lawmakers argued that the pay cut was imposed illegally by the commission.

"They have taken away our dignity and we must reclaim it," member of parliament Jimmy Angwenyi told the assembly, backing a motion to overturn a legal notice slashing their pay and increasing it to more than 130 times Kenya's minimum wage.

That would see MPs earning an average of 851,000 shillings (HK$77,600) a month, up from the 532,000 set by the commission. The average monthly wage in Kenya is 6,498 shillings.

Kenya's public sector wage bill stands at 50 percent of annual government tax revenue.