Painful end to permanent jobs for civil servants
SEE ALSO :State to hire 3,600 internsThe new changes come with implications for the new employees. First, they will not enjoy free pension and, secondly, they would not be considered attractive borrowers by banks. In the 1990s, the World Bank had advised the State to freeze recruitment of civil servants and retrench thousands of employees to cap a swelling wage bill. This had grave implications on individual households and exacerbated unemployment.
Stiff oppositionPublic Service Commission (PSC) chairman Stephen Kirogo announced the tough measures, which are likely to face stiff opposition from trade unions, yesterday. Mr Kirogo said that despite popular perception, the Civil Service was not bloated but only hosted a workforce that was resting easy in the comfort of permanent and pensionable employment terms. “We must be brutal if we want change…it will be our meagre contribution in managing the wage bill,” said Kirogo, whose pledge during recruitment was to drastically transform the PSC.
SEE ALSO :17 shortlisted for Auditor GeneralBesides the performance contracting, job grades have been collapsed from 23 to 17 following the job evaluation exercise which found officials in different cadres and salary scales yet they were doing the same job. The SRC had studied the Civil Service, State corporations and counties in compiling its report, which found that more than one-third of public sector workers were too old and lacked the capacity to deliver.
Age problemIn counties, the age problem was more pronounced partly because the administrations inherited workers of the defunct local authorities, including ‘ghosts’ who are either long dead or exist to draw a salary for no work done. Only 30 per cent of employees were in the youth age-bracket of between 18 and 34 years, while 36 per cent were aged above 46 years. The findings of a lethargic civil service would resonate with the experience of citizens whose search for efficient government services is a daily nightmare. SRC vice-chair Dalmas Otieno was the first to take a swipe at public sector workers. The former Labour minister blamed the high unemployment in the country, which he estimated at 40 per cent, on the unresponsive government workforce that was doing little to support the private sector.
Accelerate growth“I am embarrassed that you are not feeling responsible for the high unemployment. The public sector should be the accelerator of economic growth if the private sector is the engine,” Mr Otieno said. Had the public sector been supportive of private enterprises, he added, the multiplier effect would be huge hence creating the badly needed employment opportunities. Otieno said the SRC had made recommendations to the various government agencies on employee remuneration that must be adhered to, specifically on harmonising salaries and eliminating overlapping allowances. He warned there was widespread fraud in human resource processes, including manual payroll management, that helped propagate irregular payments and which was difficult to trace and audit. Last year, the public sector wage bill stood at Sh604 billion, which was more than half of the ordinary tax revenue collection by Kenya Revenue Authority. The figure had been flagged as unsustainable moving forward. Otieno said while the wage bill was expected to keep rising, focus must now shift to growing the economy and, subsequently, the amount of taxes that can be realised. Having civil servants contribute to their retirement kitty will also take pressure off the Government’s resources, as the pension bill has ballooned since 2013.
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