Bold steps taken by SRC to reduce bloated public wage bill welcome

At a time when it is no longer tenable to have a bloated Civil Service, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission has taken the bold step to reduce salaries and abolish some allowances for State officials. At this year’s State of the Nation address in March, President Uhuru Kenyatta was categorical that the next batch of leaders coming into office after the August 8, 2017 elections would have to take a pay cut. At the time, SRC had decried a runaway bill that stood at Sh627 billion.

Initial attempts by SRC to regulate the salaries of Members of Parliament were thwarted by the 11th Parliament, which determined its own pay and perks. Whether the 12th Parliament will abide by SRC rules remains to be seen, for admittedly, it could use the same tricks their predecessors used to evade the SRC embrace.

In 2015 and 2016, Members of Parliament came under the spotlight for making false sitting and mileage claims. At some point, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi invited the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate those claims. In essence, SRC has moved to save the taxpayer money fraudulently claimed as mileage and special responsibility allowances for State officials. Indeed, considering that MPs got huge loans for cars and houses, fuelling their cars at the taxpayers’ expense when their cars are for personal use is immoral.

An MP’s salary (among the highest in the world) is huge, made worse by the fact that three days of work in a week hardly justifies the huge salaries and perks amid grinding poverty. Cases of absenteeism in Parliament is legendary. But MPs have been on hand to collect their pay promptly. There is no doubt that Civil Servants work for less and earn a lot.

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Additionally, a huge public wage bill is unsustainable in a developing economy that is in dire need of development investment. SRC should not relent in its endeavour to standardise pay within the Civil Service. For ultimately, there is correlation between the clamour for pay increase and unending disputes among public servants and the huge pay MPs and other top State officials draw. 

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