UHURU BACKS SEREM ON MPs' PAY

Written By Michael Maunda on Thursday, May 30, 2013 | 9:18 PM

PRESIDENT Uhuru yesterday ordered an end to the conflict between the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and MPs over their pay. He said the constitution mandates the SRC to set and review salaries of all state officers, including MPs.

Uhuru's statement came as SRC boss Sarah Serem warned National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi that he would be surcharged if he effected an increase to MPs' salaries beyond the Sh532,500 set by the commission. On Tuesday, MPs voted to restore their pay to Sh851,000, the amount paid to MPs in the last Parliament.

In a press statement yesterday, Uhuru acknowledged the independence of Parliament but said the people of Kenya expected that institutions including Parlaiment would respect the division of mandates laid out in the Constitution.

"This continuing paralysis is not in the national interest and it is imperative that this matter be brought to an appropriate and sustainable conclusion within the law," he said.

"I therefore urge Parliament to engage the SRC in a constructive manner with a view to resolving this matter," he said. All state officers in the executive must abide by SRC rulings, Uhuru said.

Yesterday, Serem said the constitution is supreme and no-one, including MPs, can supersede it. She said the SRC's recommendation was final. She said the SRC was not required by law to gazette the salaries of MPs but did so for public information.

"Anybody who acts acts outside this law in pursuant of payment will have acted unlawfully and faces the risk of being held liable for abuse of office and aiding in the misuse of public funds," Serem said.
She said the the President, the Deputy President and most Kenyans had welcomed the setting of salaries as the wage bill could become unsustainable.

"It is about the ability to use the resources of this country to benefit the majority of Kenya. It is about the posterity of this nation," said Serem accompanied by nine members of the commission.
She said reducing the wage bill would avail more funds to development projects as required by the Public Finance Management Act. Former MP Oloo Aringo, a SRC member, said his fellow commissioners all supported Serem and would not be cowed.
He said MPs should be statesmen driven by the needs of Kenyans. MPs are now plotting to cut the budgetary allocations to the SRC and the Commission on Implementation of the Constitution led by Charles Nyachae to finance the operations of the National Land Commission.

Under the new constitution, Parliament has the power to approve or reduce funds allocated by the Treasury. In the financial year 2013/14, the SRC and CIC have been allocated Sh375,425,533 and Sh399,420,000 respectively.

The Lands, Environment and Natural Resources committee yesterday said that the NLC was operating on an almost zero budget due to its late gazettement by former President Mwai Kibaki. The NLC requested Sh6 billion but just Sh241 million has been set aside for it.

The NLC is tasked with ensuring proper management of all public land on behalf of the national and county governments and recommending a national land policy to the state.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said the NLC was critical to reforming the management of public land. “We must chop the allocations to the SRC, CIC plus other redundant commissions and give it to the land commission because the backbone of this country is land,” Ngunjiri told the committee.

Meanwhile, activist Okiya Omtatah has gone to court to block MPs from increasing their salaries. The activist wants the court to issue an order declaring the action unconstitutional.

“By purporting to revoke the legal notices published in the Kenya Gazette, the MPs violated the Constitution of Kenya and encroached on the very clear mandate of the Judiciary,” Omtatah said in his petition.

The activist wants the court to order the Parliamentary Service Commission to immediately pay the MPs their salaries as gazetted by SRC. If MPs are unhappy, he said “they should ventilate their grievances in the Industrial Court and that they should not take the law into their own hand
“There should be issued a declaratory order declaring that Parliament has no capacity to declare anything said or done by a constitutional commission to be unconstitutional. Further and in particular that, under the constitution, only the Judiciary has the jurisdiction to hear any question respecting the interpretation of the Constitution including the determination,” he said in his application.

Source: The Star