Sat. Feb 16th, 2019

MPs plot to strip SRC of its powers & determine own pay

Lawmakers have hatched a plan to lock out the Salaries and Remuneration Commission from determining and reviewing their salaries.

They have drafted the Parliamentary Service Bill, 2018, in which they want to mandate the Parliamentary Service Commission to decide how much they earn.

Clause 33 of the Bill states: “The employees of the commission shall be paid such remuneration and allowances as shall be determined by the commission.

“The terms and conditions of employees of the commission shall be reviewed every three years or within such a shorter period as the commission may determine.”

But during a public participation exercise conducted by the Justice and Legal Affairs committee, the SRC protested the move, saying their advisory role to the government on remuneration of public officers was being snatched from them.

“This clause needs to be amended to take into account Article 230( 4 ) and the SRC Act on the advisory role of the SRC and the responsibility of determining the review cycle for terms and conditions of employees in the public sector as per the SRC Act No. 10 of 2011,” SRC secretary Anne Gitau said in a memorandum to the committee.

Committee chairman and Baringo North MP William Cheptumo tabled a report last Wednesday. They recommended that the clause remain as it is.

The bill underwent First Reading on March 13. It seeks to repeal and replace the Parliamentary Service Act, 2000.

Article 230( 4 ) of the Constitution states: “The powers and functions of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission shall be to – (a) set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers; and (b) advise the national and county governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers”.

The SRC slashed the lawmakers’ salaries from Sh710,000 to Sh621,250 per month.

While vetting Sarah Serem after she was nominated as ambassador to China in August, MPs took her to task to explain her decision to cut their pay when she served as SRC chairperson.

The National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations committee compelled her to apologise as some legislators sought to settle scores. 

“I know MPs looked at [the] salary review as skewed, but it cuts across the Public Service. It’s only that the others affected didn’t have a forum to speak out,” Serem said.

The committee accused her of being domineering and not being a team player. They said she is a hardliner with poor negotiation skills. Serem denied she was biased against them.

President Uhuru Kenyatta praised the SRC efforts. He said the new structure would ensure fairness across the pay divide and urged civil servants to support the recommendations. 

“I call upon Kenyans to support the SRC’s recommendations, as this will help tame the wage bill. The recommendations provide a clear and transparent guideline to test fair pay and non-exorbitant pay,” he said.

“Leadership is about service and not a business.”