High pay for politicians

It\’s an idea: that if we pay politicians well then they won\’t steal. So how does that work out then?

Members of parliament are laughing all the way to the bank this week as they collect their first gross salary of Sh 750,000 after working for just a day.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) is in the process of dispatching the January salary for the 207 MPs sworn in last Tuesday.

This is despite the fact that the MPs have officially worked for a single day, Tuesday January 15, when they elected Kenneth Marende as the Speaker and Farah Maalim as his deputy before they were sworn in.

President Kibaki has since prorogued parliament until March.

The cash includes a basic salary of Sh 300,000 and a minimum commuted mileage (Sh 75,000), entertainment allowance (Sh 60,000), extraneous allowance (Sh 30,000), house allowance (Sh 70,000) and monthly car maintenance allowance (Sh 247,000).

So, that\’s Kenya. Some £7,000 a month or so according to one exchange rate site. A pretty beefy sum in a poor nation. How\’s it going then?

Kenya\’s rapacious elite is preoccupied with preparing for the next elections, almost guaranteed to be even more violent than the last. State resources are being plundered and every drop of available funding hoovered up as the parties build their war chests. Votes cost money, and so does arming militias to ensure that their funders\’ candidates win.

What the election crisis proved is that Kenya\’s “eating” culture, whether manifested in daily palm-greasing or the grand looting of the elite, does more than pour sand into the economy\’s workings and blight the aspirations of millions. It represents a fundamental rejection of the concept of the state as expression of the common will. In that cynical lack of belief sprout the seeds of civil war.

Oh well, another seemingly decent idea killed off by empirical evidence.

4 thoughts on “High pay for politicians”

  1. Here in Jersey we only started paying our politicians a few years ago: we had no shortage of them before, and they don’t appear to have improved a whole lot in quality since.

    While paying well may attract more capable candidates (insert obvious corollorary about then having to get elected), I think for quite a few of those who seek office their real pay is power, not money.

  2. Just how prevalent was the public service ethos ever? Has it just broken down recently or is that the attention and pervasiveness of the modern media make it harder for politicians of all hues and nationalities to escape the focus on their pig-swilling activities at the expense of the tax-payer and aid-giver. In any case, it all argues in favour of returning to rule by the House of Lords – proper Lords not those place-servers and pig-swillers chosen by Tony.

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