MPs merit hefty perks and shouldn’t pay tax, tribunal told

Published on 01/04/2009

By David Ochami

An MP has claimed that their huge perks are compensation for “heavy responsibilities” and an incentive to attract skill to Parliament.

Kinangop MP David Ngugi claimed it was also meant to insulate MPs from manipulation by the Executive.

Mr Ngugi told the Akiwumi tribunal on MPs pay that there should be a yearly increment on legislator’s earnings.

He dismissed MPs remitting taxes on allowances to the Kenya Revenue Authority before the amendment of the National Assembly (Remuneration) Act as engaging in populism.

Ngugi also wants MPs awarded a compulsory gratuity and pension regardless of years served.

“I will not be one of the populist politicians going to pay taxes while the law stands,” said the MP.

When he testified yesterday, Ngugi proposed that the Constituency Development Fund be increased to 5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Ngugi proposed that MPs should only be compelled to pay tax on all earnings if the Act is changed.

He said the rise in MPs’ earnings since mid 1990s had raised the quality of debate and legislative work by attracting professionals and through enhanced parliament’s independence.

“When you are an MP, you carry very heavy responsibilities,” he said.

He claimed he earns the same money as he did before leaving the private sector in 2007.

“I am earning the same salary I was earning in the private sector. The only difference (then) was that the money was mine and my family’s. Now, what I earn belongs to me and the larger Kinangop family.”

He said besides assisting constituents after spending “a fortune getting to Parliament,” MPs require additional funding to conduct research.

“There should be a yearly increment based on inflation and other factors as is the case in the private sector and countries like Brazil.”

He said MPs were willing to negotiate how much additional tax they could pay as a fraction of consolidated earnings or a percentage of figures proposed by KRA.

And he wants Parliament’s housing scheme managed by the Housing Finance Corporation of Kenya or similar entity, with the House only guaranteeing loans.

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