Kenyan MPs face a freeze on pay rises following public outcry

Written by on 04/07/2024

Proposed pay rises for Kenya’s cabinet and parliament members have been halted after President William Ruto ordered a review following public backlash. This decision follows last week’s mass protests that led to the withdrawal of a controversial finance bill, which had included tax hikes. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Chairperson Lyn Mengich announced the freeze on salary increases for state officers, citing the current economic realities. Initially, the SRC had recommended a 2% to 5% pay increase for all state officials, including judges, but public outcry questioned the logic of raising politicians’ salaries amid a financial crisis.

The reversal came after discussions with the National Treasury, according to Mengich. The SRC had proposed that the salary increases take effect from this month, but Public Service Minister Moses Kuria stated he would not implement the increases for the cabinet. Several lawmakers, including those from the ruling coalition and opposition, have opposed the pay hikes, arguing that they are unjustifiable given the current economic hardships. President Ruto has emphasized the need for the government to live within its means and has tasked the treasury with reviewing the proposed salary increases.

The protests against the tax hikes, which were the largest since Ruto took office in 2022, have evolved into calls for his resignation and demands for accountability over the killing of protesters by security forces. The state-funded rights commission estimates that 39 people have died in the demonstrations over the past two weeks. Amidst the unrest, shops and supermarkets were looted, and police have published images of 38 people wanted for engaging in lawlessness. Organizers of the protests allege that infiltrators have incited the violence, prompting them to reconsider their strategies and possibly call off the demonstrations.

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