Ringera accuses MPs of fuelling graft, laziness


Published on 02/04/2009

By David Ochami and Morton Saulo

MPs promote corruption and laziness and should not control the national Budget, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director Aaron Ringera has said.

Justice Ringera claimed arguments by MPs to justify high salaries and non-payment of taxes on allowances were hollow and morally untenable in Kenya’s “relatively weak economy”.

He also termed an anomaly the fact that MPs determine their own salary.

“As it is now, MPs lack the moral authority to scrutinise and direct how Government revenue (which is the pool of taxes) is used when they contribute very little,” said Ringera.

He said it was “immoral for a group of people to sit down to approve the Budget and expenditure of the income of another group”.

Ringera argued that MPs had become no less corrupt because they were better paid than others before early 1990s.

“The most corrupt people are the richest,” he told a tribunal on MPs’ pay and added: “There is no amount of money that is enough.”

He said MPs’ high earnings were not meant to make them pious and honest.

By resisting tax on most of their earnings, MPs are unpatriotic, Ringera told the Akiwumi Commission on MPs perks, yesterday.

Yam and knife

Ringera, who earns Sh2.5 million, accused MPs of holding Kenyans at ransom over pay and taxation.

“They have got the yam and knife and are unlikely to pass any legislation that proposes to tax their allowances during their incumbency,” Ringera told Justice Akilano Akiwumi and added that allowing MPs to regulate their pay through the Parliamentary Service Commission opened a window for corruption through “abuse and manipulation”.

He proposed the establishment of a permanent commission protected by the Constitution to regulate pay for all public servants.

Ringera accused MPs of applying double standards for allowing levies on basic pay and not other emoluments “which form the bulk of their remuneration” and passing the task of running the economy to “the very poor Kenyans they are supposed to represent”.

Said Ringera: “MPs already pay taxes on their basic salary. This means that they appreciate and accept the principle that their remuneration ought to be taxed.”

Ringera said MPs had promoted corruption and laziness by bribing voters and buying “their way to the august House”.

He said: “Under the excuse of assisting their followers during the General Election, MPs promote corruption in the form of bribery, which in turn breeds a culture of free things… laziness (and) crime that has compromised the quality of leaders…”

No more excuses

He said legislation was too noble to be presided over by people who bribed their way to Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Ringera said devolution through constituency development and other funds had denied MPs the “excuse” that they spend much of their earnings on charity.

He urged legislators to establish foundations to assist the poor .

He said other Kenyans engaged in charity and philanthropy had not shirked their tax obligations.

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