Kenya’s Obscene Politician’s Salaries: Still a Problem

President Kibaki will probably not win the Mo Ibrahim Prize because of his questionable reelection but he sure will leave office a happy man.

According to the Star:

“When President Kibaki walks out of State House after the next elections, he will go home with a hefty gratuity—Sh50 million. The gratuity, the highest to be paid in the history of the country, has already been factored into the 2012/2013 budget by newly appointed Finance minister Njeru Githae.

Apart from the one-off payment of the gratuity, Githae also proposes to increase the annual allocation for retired presidents from the current Sh17.7 million to Sh30.2 million. The increase is meant to cater for the monthly pension which is due to Kibaki plus what taxpayers have been paying Moi since he left office in early 2003. The two will continue to draw the pension for the rest of their lives.”

“……Kibaki will also be entitled to get a monthly pension equal to eighty per cent of his current monthly salary. Kibaki is currently paid a basic monthly salary of Sh2 million (about $26,000) and earns an average of Sh24million ($200,000) a year under the current exchange rate.”

The figures are actually a bit off. Under current exchange ranges 2 million Shillings a month amounts to about US$300,000 annually. Not a bad deal at all.

These figures, however, raise questions about compensation packages for politicians in Kenya. Recently the treasury bribed MPs to pass the new budget and to be nice to the banks with a “gratuity” amounting to almost US$50,000. This on top of their already obscene annual salaries which stand at US$ 161,000, excluding other shady allowances that are never included under official pay. The last time I checked, all things considered, these MPigs (as they are derisively called locally) make upwards of US$174,000.

Per capita income in Kenya (in current dollars) stands at around US$800, with about 40% living below the poverty line.

I have argued before that paying MPs a decent salary may make them less amenable to executive manipulation (For supporting evidence see Barkan and Co. on legislative strength in Africa). But this just takes it too far.

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2 thoughts on “Kenya’s Obscene Politician’s Salaries: Still a Problem

  1. I completely agree. Paying a solid, professional salary is appropriate for the job; unfortunately this seems to have gotten beyond the point of any rational policy justification and become just a matter of the political class using its power to take care of its own interests. This does seem to be exacerbated in the situation under the “government of national unity” in which there is no clear opposition role. (Carl LeVan has some good recent research on the performance of these unity governments.)

    In Kenya, the financial rewards of serving in parliament have, in my observation, skewed the incentives for people involved in politics–everyone has wanted to be in parliament to the exclusion of other important roles, such as professional roles in the political parties, as an example.

    Under the new constitution, there will be many more offices available–it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Ken Flottman
    AfriCommons Blog
    http://www.africommons.com

    Like

  2. Pingback: Some thoughts on Kenyan MPs and their salaries « An Africanist Perspective

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