Experts warn State on planned sackings

Jason Lakin, senior programme officer and research fellow at International Budget Partnership questioned the authenticity of Government figures on the wage bill.  [PHOTO: /STANDARD]
By JAMES ANYANZWA

Economists yesterday cautioned the State against blanket retrenchment of civil service employees.

The Government has been laying ground to sack civil service employees currently estimated at slightly over 600,000. This follows growing concern from several institutions, including the Controller of Budget and Parliament’s Budget Office, that the public sector wage bill is spiralling out of control.

Salaries to civil servants have almost doubled, from Sh241 billion in 2008-2009 to Sh458 billion in 2012-2013. In the 2013-2014 financial year, the estimated gross recurrent expenditure is Sh610.5 billion or 37.1 per cent of the budget allocation.

But meeting at a forum organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP), the experts have questioned the authenticity of Government figures on wage bill, workforce and cost of running counties.

Jason Lakin, a senior programme officer and research fellow at IBP, said by all indications, the public sector wage bill is much higher than documented.

“It is likely that we are not getting adequate information on where these figures are coming from,” he said, adding that only a proper audit would answer these questions.

“Before we decide that anybody is going home, we must determine which sectors are paying out more wages and which sectors are wasting money on unnecessary staff.”

AFFECT OPERATIONS

Lakin also noted that rushed and haphazard sacking in Government will not necessarily bring down the wage bill and that retrenchment might be more relevant in some sectors than others.

“Blanket sacking of civil servants might affect the operations of the county and national governments even more,” he said as he observed that only a small number of employees are beneficiaries of the high public sector wage bill, with majority taking home peanuts.

According to Kwame Owino, chief executive of the Institute of Economic Affairs, efficiency in public spending is critical to ensure taxpayers get value for their money.

“The wage bill is higher and yet some workers claim they are not earning enough money. Some of these things have to do with the efficiency question and not necessarily how much we spend,” said Owino. The two were speaking during a media briefing on the Division of Revenue Bill in Nairobi yesterday.

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Economists retrenchment civil servants