Tuesday, August 14, 2007

(Poor) Defence of MP's Salaries

In 2003, Transparency International - Kenya published a booklet (PDF here) as a result of a survey they had carried out on Kenyan parliamentarians and the burden of dealing with (paying for) constituents needs – mostly though giving funds

It’s useful to look back on it at a time when the same parliamentarians want to increase their salaries again (because they can and will) the survey consisted of 8th parliament – expenditure of 7 MP's and questionnaire of about 20 others

The survey was done before Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the last salary increase (2003) and found that;
- Of their (then) Kshs. 395,000 gross salary, MP’s typically took home less than 50,000
- 2/3 of those surveyed claimed to spend between 200,000 and 300,000 pr month of their salary i.e. ½ to 2/3 – and it’s interesting that for those who TI tracked, they projected that their expenses would exceed their salary & expected income (TI did not pursue this point)
- Reasons for giving funds: to get re-elected got 3X as many responses as to help people. Longevity in parliament is maintained by being generous to constituents
- Ominous point for Kenya, most - over 2/3 of elections are not closely contested i.e. the winner gets double the votes of the loser signifying the importance of being in the right party. This places the burden on party nominations (see ODM-K, NARC, NARC-K, Shirikisho, Ford K....) which are often not observed, and are less free & fair
- TI Kenya defended the MP's - asking for them to get higher remuneration (to ease the stress and deficits brought on by their constituents requests) and also supported CDF (at that time was only a proposal) But the latter is self defeating because the more the public knows that MP’s have increased their salary, only makes them ask for more from MP’s.

Now today, MP’s have CDF, get funds to set up office in their constituencies, control funds for school bursaries, are off the hook from free primary education (and soon secondary), and have almost doubled their salary from before the survey.

But CDF also helps voters decipher useless MP's who can no longer lie to them that the government was denying them resources to do A, B, C. CDF reduced 'problem solving' but not all since most MP's giving to their constituents consists of individuals and harambees.

So MP's will increase their salaries, because they have to - and can.


Gathara said...

Your faith in the CDF's utility in helping voters is sadly misplaced. When did it become an MP's job to "bring development"? This is the same excuse that TI and MPs are using to campaign for an increase in the latter's pay.

The constitution gives MPs a fairly specific job: exercise oversight over the Executive not replace it.

coldtusker said...

No, they do not have to... yes, they can!

If there are any funds/assistance t be given to constituents then it should be vetted through the CDF.

Salaries for "public service" should be based on certain criteria including the minimum wage, average wage, etc...

They should be paid enough to discourage corruption but there is no end to greed.

MainaT said...

Ati they should be paid enough to prevent their corruption. So should we be paying thieves to stop them from stealing?

The cost of GoK (mamoth cabinent with many assistant ministers underutilised; underutilised & overpaid MPs; underutilised PCs, DCs, DOs, chiefs, sub-chiefs, councillors) is just not common sense. What are all these peeps contributing to the country?

coldtusker said...

MainaT: The Kenyan model is flawed. I am big fan of Singapore...

OK... they should be paid enough to attract the right kind of person for the job... lakini 90% of this parliament should be kicked out as well kicked in the teeth!!!

don said...

Giving money in exchange for a vote? In other countries that is known as a bribe. In Kenya it is actually a reason to increase your salary... I hope Kibz side steps this again.

It should be illegal for a MP to give any funds for any purpose that could be construed as buying votes.

Gathara said...

Why should funds be given to constituents through the CDF? Since when did the constituency become a unit of anything other than political administration? Devolution to constituencies (and not districts or provinces) simply politicises development.

It is no surprise therefore when we hear press reports of MPs insisting on the money being used for projects of their own choice and in areas of their preference. In short the CDF is a slush fund for MPs to reward their supporters.

coldtusker said...

CDF has it flaws but I do not advocate giving funds to "individuals" from the CDF rather projects that benefit the community that are not top-down.

The fund should be independently managed with input from constituents. I see it as devolution to the grass roots (bottom-up rather than top-down).

CDF is unfair in that all constituencies receive the same amount regardless of size, population & taxpayer base.

CDF (when watched by the constituents) is less prone to wastage compared to top-down projects that have no direct participation by the constituents.

E-Nyce said...

Did I just read that an independant government oversight org. advocates perpetuating a corrupt political process???

Gathara said...

I have nothing against devolution. My problem is with the choice of the constituency (a political unit) and not the province, district, location or even sub-location (which are administrative units) as the unit of devolution. It is this choice that gives MPs a say on how the moneys are to be spent and politicises the whole exercise.

Kip said...

CDF is an ingenious move that is akin to District Focus for Rural Development (DFRD) that collapsed or dono what happened to it... Nyway,
@Cold Tusker: Not all constituencies get the same allocation as you may wish to know 75% is shared equally whereas 25% is based on poverty index, constituency size and population. Your can consult me coz i hae this eyars allocation which ranges from 37M to 60 M for constituencies.

@gathara: Indeed MPs should not be charged with development issues especially concerning CDF as there will be political patronage, corruption and embezzlement. Infact reliable source reveal that most projects have not been implemented, others were implemented on supported areas
whereas others are just ghost projects.. want more?
@mainat: MPs are well paid and as you may wish to know their gross salary is aroung 800,000, car loan, house loan,mileage, entertainment, extraneous allowance alongside other benefits all accrue to them. What more do they want??????

You can also check out my exposition on CDF on my blog:

coldtusker said...

kip: Thanks for the clarification.

I stand by my devolved model BUT I agree the unit should be "economic" not political. it makes more sense for a village/township to get the CDF funds rather than a "political" constituency.

kip: 37mn to 60mn is peanuts esp when the heavily populated areas are concerned e.g. Nairobi.

I prefer a percentage of all taxes (income & property) generated from an area put back into the area.

bankelele said...

Gathara: CDF is a start, it can be improved with time (as some of the comments have posed)
- I like you point that CDF can be better administered through district or divsional levels - but there's no fun for politicans in that

coldtusker: They will, unless an early election is called IMHO. Their runwaway salaries will have to be addressed in the near future
- I want to visit Singapore in the next 2 years.

MainaT: But it will never be enough, will it? I'm troubled that the govenment has expanded to fit the increased tax collection, some of it is wasted (how many new parastatals do we need anyway?)

don: it's the way elections have been done, but voters can sometimes take gifts/cash and snub the politicans (see Kipipiri, and referendum examples)

E-Nyce: not corrupt, but one that called for consitituens to relate differently with their MP's

Kip: yeah, what happened to DFRD?

Anonymous said...

instead of CDF why dont we just give money directly to the most needy - no politics money directly goes to the poorest obviously they must e some veting and structures .. uganda just started this

Mimmz said...

well, MPs hiking salaries, definitely outrageous. CDF funds, despite all ills you point out, very genius progressive idea. The power is with the voters, if the MP doesn't use the funds as you please, take your votes elsewhere. At some point, wananchi have to take responsibility for their roles in nation building.

That whole thing of using the excuse they need to give to get re-elcetd; seriously? And this was accepted as a valid reason? tsk, tsk. We still have a long way to go.

m said...

I am also skeptical about the fact that the unit of disbursement of the funds is political. That just opens avenues for abuse

MainaT said...

Pass me the sunglasses! The new is look is too bright especially as i had come prep'd with my torch :-)

mogiyusuf said...

Hon Raila Amolo Odinga, the Mp for Kibera, nay, Langata, is considered a Kingmaker in Kenyan politics. According to the late Hon Michael Kijana Wamalwa, he inspires both Railamania and Railaphobia while the latest biography aptly describes him as an enigma in Kenyan politics. In Luo Nyanza Raila has cultivated a cult of personality that is the envy of many a politician. This cult has spawned myths that elevates Raila almost to the level of luo legends like Gor Mahia and Lwanda Magere. Infact, Hon Raila Amolo Odinga, the Mp for Kibera, nay, Langata, is considered a Kingmaker in Kenyan politics. According to the late Hon Michael Kijana Wamalwa, he inspires both Railamania and Railaphobia while the latest biography aptly describes him as an enigma in Kenyan politics. In Luo Nyanza Raila has cultivated a cult of personality that is the envy of many a politician. This cult has spawned myths that elevates Raila almost to the level of luo legends like Gor Mahia and Lwanda Magere. Infact, professors of Political Science bow in awe and sing praises to Agwambo, owad gi Akinyi

Raila straddles the Kenyan political landscape like the proverbial colossus. Whenever, he is out of the country, his absence speaks even louder. He has the knack of setting the political agenda by just calling a prss conference; and even if you are dyed-in-the-wool critique of this guy, you must appreciate one fact: he is a force that cannot be wished away.

Despite all this accolades as a politician, Raila fails miserable as a leader. This is manifested by the increasing socio-economic misery that he has brought to members of the luo community. No wonder, the word luo Nyanza evokes negative feelings of poverty disease and immaturity. This is not to say that Raila is wholly responsible for the woes facing the luo community, members of this community are equally culpable.

To begin with, Raila enjoys unbridled power as leaders of the luo community- forget the fact that he is a Nairobi MP. This has come about due to the fact that the luos suffered immensely under Kenyatta and Moi to the point where they were desperate for leaders who will fearless fight for them. The late Jaramogi Odinga, one of the most principled and honest politicians this country has ever had - took up this mantle but fate was not kind to him. His son ascended to this throne with the promise to deliver the luo from socio-political wilderness. Unbeknown to the luo community, he subtly changed course and is now leading them deeper and deeper into the hot desert while he is covered with a human umbrella and has fresh water at his disposal. He has even taken all the manna that dropped from heaven so that his people can remain hungry and beg from him.

Many sons and daughters of the luo community have died in this circus of the so called political and economic liberation while his closest relatives live in luxury. When its is appropriate, Raila sheds crocodile tears knowing well aware that these suffering and death only serves to reinforce the persecution complex within the community that ensures his political survival.

It is instructive to note that the sugar and fish sector remain the mainstay of luo economy. However, no single day not one I know of has Raila ever employed his mobilization skill and rhetoric to fight for the farmers and the fisherfolk. For along time, before Kibaki came to power, sugar framer went for years without being paid for their produce. Meanwhile, tones of sugar were being imported into the country compounding further the woes further. All this time, Agwambo never raised a finger or was he part of the cartel that was importing sugar. In the fish sector, it is ironical that people in Nyanza are contended with fish skeletons popularly known as mgongowazi due to high levels of poverty while hoping against hope that all will be well when Raila becomes president Never!

Some will argue that Raila is the MP for Kibera and is not responsible for the woes affecting the people of Nyanza. Nothing could be further from the truth. Raila is covertly and overtly at the centre of all the major political events taking place in the region including who becomes MP, if in doubt, just ask Raphael Tuju, the MP for Rarieda. However, this is not to say that Tuju should provide the much needed alternative centre of power, given that he cannot be come an MP if left to his own devices.

One would ask: what do you want Raila to do? Before I answer the question, I would say that Raila has remained the undisputed (mis)leader of the luo community for very long time. If he was wise and had the interest of the luo people, he would use this privileged position to help his people economically and not to pursue his own selfish political interests at the expense of his community. He should do this by using his influence among the luo as a political bargaining chip to force the government acquiesce to the urgent needs of his people in whatever way possible in return for political support. Politics for its own sake will not help the luo people.

At this point, I want to challenge Raila to tell the public any substantial contribution in terms of economic development that he has made to his community.

In conclusion, its time for the luo to take a hard look at themselves in the social-economic mirror and see the bruises and wounds in their faces caused by a leader whom they worship more than Nyasaye

bankelele said...

MainaT: slight tweak, though I read somewhere that dark/black screens consume less PC energy to display/read than light ones

mogiyusuf: Rails is an enigma, I don't know what to make of him. But caall me a Raila-maniac because I fail to see how he is repobnsible for poverty in Nyanza

Liisa R said...

I wonder what is the relationship between CDF and Local Administration. Which one gets the bulk of transfers and which one is reasonably democratic and transparent?


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