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Kenyatta lashes lawmakers over pay

17 April 2013, 11:00

Nairobi - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta used his first speech to parliament on Tuesday to lash lawmakers over their high salaries, while promising to lift millions out of poverty by 2017.

Kenya's members of parliament last year made about 851 000 shillings ($10 000) a month, compared to an average monthly income of just 11 300 shillings for ordinary citizens.

This year, the monthly pay for lawmakers was brought down to 532 500 shillings, and some members of parliament in turn have threatened to stall legislation if their salaries are not increased.

Kenyatta said the country's public wage bill is about 12% of gross domestic product and wanted to see it reduced to the 7%, more in line with international norms.

The public wage bill "poses a serious threat to funding important development projects", he said in an address to both houses of parliament.

Much of his speech focused on increasing economic activity in East Africa's largest economy. While the country of 43 million people is growing at about 5% a year, many Kenyans remain mired in poverty.

"Our overall goal is a transformation of our economy and lifting 10 million of our brothers and sisters out of poverty by 2017," said Kenyatta, who was inaugurated last week as Kenya's fourth president since independence from Britain 50 years ago.

He urged lawmakers to "create a business climate that encourages innovation, investment and growth".

Kenyatta is to announce his cabinet later this week, and observers are waiting to judge the ethnic diversity of the government.

There remain deep divides following Kenyatta's victory at the polls, which was disputed by his main rival Raila Odinga. The country's top court ruled in the president's favour.

The previous election in 2007 descended into ethnic bloodshed which left over 1 000 people dead.



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