Outrage, protests as parliamentarians set $26.3million sendoff bonus for themselves; $117,000 each

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Outrage as Kenyan parliamentarians set $26.3million sendoff bonus for themselves; $117,000 each.

Nairobi: Kenya’s members of Parliament, already among the highest paid in the world, have awarded themselves a $26.3 million bonus for when they leave office, to be funded by increased taxes, it has emerged.
The bonus pot, worth more than $117,000 for each MP, is equivalent to the annual income of more than 15,000 Kenyans.
It would take an average Kenyan worker 66 years to earn what each MP will be given.
Hundreds of people marched through Nairobi on Tuesday to protest against the politicians’ attempts to increase their take-home pay beyond the $128,000 a year they already earn.

“How come our teachers had to strike for three weeks to get a salary hike, yet within a single sitting the MPs could easily increase their remuneration,” Odhiambo asked. “So where is the two billion shillings going to come from?” The demonstrators camped outside Kenya’s Parliament and shouted ”thief” whenever an MP drove past. The bonus was quietly added to the finance bill last week and comes after the government left children out of school and hospital patients unattended by drawing out pay talks with teachers and doctors.

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”There is no one I’ve come across who has not been totally outraged about this,” said Rachel Gichinga, a manager at a Nairobi technology development centre. ”After everything that’s been happening, with the teachers’ and doctors’ strikes when the government said it had no money to pay them higher salaries, to then give themselves [the bonus pot] is beyond unreasonable.”
To cover the bonuses, taxes would be raised on mobile phone money transfers, banking cheques and withdrawing money from ATMs, financial analysts said. There were reports that costs of beer, mobile phone airtime and internet access would also be increased. Such measures would hit Kenya’s middle classes and its poorest, in a country where the average annual income is about $1760.
In 2003, Kenyan MPs quadrupled their pay as their first order of business after the 2002 election. They have since tried to increase their income far above the rate of inflation on three further occasions.
Mwalimu Mati, head of governance watchdog Mars Group, said MPs had ”abused their privileges and disregarded all rules of decency.” ref: by Mike Pflanz/The Telegraph/

USAfricaonline.com notes that Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga has condemned the package, noting he is “against the MPs’ gratuity bonus.”
Kenya is scheduled to hold its general election in March 2013 – coming more than 4 years after the post-poll violence of the time.

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