186% pay rise for Kenya's president

$500,000 salary as half the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

by

    More than half of Kenya's population lives
    on less than one dollar a day
    Mwai Kibaki, Kenya's president, has taken a salary increase of nearly 200 per cent, which takes his pay to about $30,000 a month.

    When allowances are added he receives about $500,000 a year - $100,000 more than George Bush, the president of the United States.

    Several other leaders have chosen to reduce their salaries in recent years to improve their standing with the electorate.

    Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, cut his salary by more than 50 per cent, from $48,000 to $18,000, when he took office and Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, chopped his pay by more than half in January.  
     
    But the Kenyan government has said that his pay is in line with international standards.

    More than half of Kenya's population living on less than a dollar a day and analysts have said that it is difficult to justify a huge pay increase.
     
    Robert Shaw, an economist, told Al Jazeera: "Kenya is a relatively poor country by any standards. It has massive disparities of wealth. Two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. So the answer quite clearly is no, it should not be paying those sort of salaries."

    Kenyans have varying opinions about Kibaki's elevated salary. 
     

    "Kenya is a relatively poor country by any standards ... So the answer quite clearly is no, it should not be paying those sort of salaries"

    Robert Shaw, economist
    "Every Kenyan should condemn this move to increase his salary. The president and his cabinet do not deserve it," one Kenyan attending independence day celebrations told Al Jazeera.

    But another said: "I think Kibaki deserves the money because he has improved so many things in Kenya. Life is better from what it was during the old days."

    Many Kenyans believe that the money could have gone a long way to make life a little better for the average Kenyan. 
      
    The country has about 200 slums and many of the children who live in them will never get an education because their parents cannot afford it.
     
    Economists have estimated that the increase in salary alone is enough to send eight million of the country's poorest children to school for a year.
     
    Kenya might get a chance to have their say on the president's pay rise next year when he is scheduled to stand for re-election.

    Kibaki took power after an election in December 2002 during which he pledged to tackle widespread corruption in Kenya.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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