“Members of parliament go through difficulties and I know the distances because I travel across the country myself, if we want MPs to serve the people to the degree that we expect them and promote democracy and interact with the people we should facilitate...How do we facilitate that, we facilitate that through emoluments. If you want to curb corruption, to ensure that our MPs do not fall in category of people who do not have the interest of people at heart then we should look at the issue of emoluments. You can justify the demands [for a pay rise].”
WYNTER KABIMBA MP
(PF Secretary General)
There are three problems with. Kabimba's misguided argument.
First, Kabimba argues that additional wages would reduce corruption among parliamentarians. That is a myth. Empirical evidence decisively concludes that the "systematic evidence on the relationship between pay and corruption is ambiguous". Most importantly, paying higher wages reduces corruption, if and only if, the monitoring apparatus is effective. In other words, wage incentives might reduce bribery and corruption but only under a well functioning enforcement apparatus. This apparatus is essentially good effective institutions. Lets get the ACC and DEC be more accountable in following up parliamentary corruption. This is what Kabimba should focus on, and then we can look at higher wages if necessary.
Secondly, Kabimba argues that additional wages would make MPs "promote democracy and interact with the people". In other words they would better able to do their jobs or act more professionally. This seems a rather foolish reason for increasing wages. Just how will giving them more money make them promote democracy and interaction? Will they spend the money on democracy courses? Or perhaps we expect them to throw parties and invite people? Or may be they will acquire time management skills? Parliamentary professionalism emerges out of the greater need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competing bunch. More electoral competition delivers better MPs.
Finally, here is an important point for economists. To ask Government to pay MPs higher and higher wages as a way of introducing greater professionalism is not sound economics. Aside from the second point above, its also extremely counter intuitive. Its like asking Government to give more money to poorly performing companies! If Kabimba had said we need performance based pay one would understand! But he is saying all MPs are so poor at their jobs that they need more money to become better! This is intellectual folly.
Economist | Consultant | Researcher
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