Audit calls for reduction of MPs, MCAs
Report handed to Parliament says Kenyans are spending too much on their elected leaders, and this has caused wage bill to balloon
Kenyans are over-represented by exorbitantly paid lawmakers and should slash the number of elected leaders and reduce their allowances, an audit report on the Constitution says.
The report presented to Parliament yesterday says Kenyans are spending far too much on their far too numerous MPs and MCAs in 47 counties.
The report will be debated by Parliament at a date to be set. Lawmakers will decide whether some of their many lucrative positions should be abolished or their numbers reduced, and whether their salaries and ben- efits should be cut for the sake of the public good.
“Put together, the cost of running a bicameral Parliament, the over-representation of Kenyans and the exorbitant allowances paid to MPs are contributing to the rising wage bill. The allowances alone, in some instances, tend to go beyond the basic pay,” the report says.
On average, Kenya spends Sh20.6 million annually on a single MP and on that MP’s parliamentary staff – Sh7 million more than it spent before the 2010 Constitution.
However, the report cautions that the ballooning and unsustainable wage bill cannot be blamed on implementation of the Constitution alone.
It says there is a lot of waste by both national and county governments, evidenced by an unprecedented increase in unsupported expenditures.
The audit found that the percentage growth of the public wage bill has been rising dramatically — by 15.42 per cent in 2012 and by 16.75 per cent in 2013.
“Between 2012 and 2014, the economy grew by an average of 5.2 per cent. The public wage bill, therefore, grew at a faster rate than the economy,” the report says.
The report was prepared by the Working Group on the Socio-Economic Audit of the 2010 Constitution, chaired by Auditor General Edward Ouko. The group was formed following a resolution by the National Assembly in February 2014.
According to the report, the audit found Kenyans are over-represented by a total 2,600 MPs, Senators and MCAs. This, the report says, means that one lawmaker represents 16,000 people. The Kenyan Parliament is one of the world’s largest.
Ethiopia with a population of 99 million — more than double Kenya’s — has a total 1,989 national and local representatives. Nigeria with 175 million people has 1,447 representatives.
While the global norm is a Parliament with about 290 members, Kenya’s Parliament — the National Assembly and the Senate — has 416 members.
“The audit finds that Kenyans are over-represented. Kenya has more representatives (MPs, Senators and MCAs) compared with countries with similar populations and size of economy,” the report says.
The report adds that Kenya’s representatives are among the most highly paid in the world, receiving more than lawmakers in some advanced economies.
While the basic salaries of MPs and MCAs may be comparable to those of their counterparts elsewhere, their allowances make them some of the best paid.
The report quotes the Economist magazine, which recently ranked Kenyan legislators’ salaries, excluding allowances, at position 19 of 29 countries.
It says some lawmakers get allowances that are equal to or more than their basic salaries. This is not only against the law but also contributes to the soaring wage bill.
The report recommends, among other measures, that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission reduce and tightly cap allowances paid to public officers, including State officers. It cites MPs, Senators and MCAs.
It adds the SRC should develop guidelines for Parliament to follow to ensure that no more than 60 per cent of the current gross pay for MPs, MCAs, and other State officers is paid as basic salary. No more than 40 per cent shall constitute allowances, it recommends.
The audit looked at other aspects of the Constitution and the report says there has been good progress in implementation.
“The Constitution is generally delivering as per expectation. There is improvement in the delivery of services, especially at the county level. Health, agriculture, infrastructure, and Early Childhood Development Education are generally shown to have improved,” the report says.
However, the report also makes several recommendations aimed at streamlining the working of the Constitution, especially in line with devolution.
There are a many redundant staff members in the 47 county governments who were inherited from old local governments and who should be retrenched, it says.
The audit report says county governments should be allocated more resources for development to make devolution work more effectively.
It urges national and county governments to undertake a “value for money analysis” before engaging in any project requiring public expenditure.
The report recommends that the membership of independent commissions be reduced to a maximum of five, from the current nine.
It wants the Public Service Commission to develop policy guidelines on how recruitment by national and county governments should reflect regional and ethnic diversity.
“The national government and county governments have not been effective in enhancing regional and ethnic diversity in recruitments to public offices. This has had the effect of limiting the extent to which national cohesion and unity can be achieved.” the report says.
THE AUDIT REPORT SAYS COUNTY GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE ALLOCATED MORE RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPMENT TO MAKE DEVOLUTION WORK MORE EFFECTIVELY
THE CONSEQUENCE IS THAT OF A CIVIL AND PUBLIC SERVICE WHERE INDIVIDUALS ARE ALLOWED TO NEGOTIATE THEIR EMOLUMENTS AS INDIVIDUALS
National Assembly Budget Committe Chairman Mutava Musyimi and Auditor General Edward Ouko in Parliament yesterday