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With all these ghosts on prowl, taxpayers can never sleep tight

By Editorial | August 9th 2019

Kenya is teeming with ghosts–and ghost workers. But none are smarter than those from Embu who are said to occasionally clamber out of their cold graves to chair board meetings.

And once they are done, they creep back to their underground abodes where they lie low until another opportunity to render their services crops up in the world.

Two people, who died years ago, are still recorded as members of health facility management boards. They are said to have attended board meetings in at least two health facilities. In one of them, a dead chairman even had his term in office “renewed” in December last year, Embu County Assembly MCAs revealed recently.

As the dead don’t transact in cash, there is need to find out who has been pocketing the "hard-working" dead people’s pay.

The benefactor should also be punished for giving the dead a bad name.

The Embu case highlights how serious the ghost workers problem is.

The President underscored the seriousness of the matter in April when he revealed more than 2,000 ghost workers had been smoked out by the National Integrated Identity Management System in the police service, who cost the taxpayer nearly Sh1.8 billion annually. “We found 1,447 people who were receiving salaries but were nowhere to be seen. In the Administration Police, we found 1,048 and in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations we found 152,” he said.

Nakuru County Government also made headway in the fight against ghost workers last year after it purged 23 of them from the payroll following an audit. The ghosts were estimated to have gobbled up Sh100 million in the four years of their existence.

Several other counties have conducted staff headcounts in the recent past in a bid to weed out ghost workers. From the look of things, ghost workers earn more than those who actually do the job.

Clearly, the problem of ghost workers in the public service is humongous. At a time when both levels of government are heaving under the weight of the ballooning wage bill, it is imperative that a more thorough scrutiny of government employees be done to root out fake workers.

It is disingenuous to continue taxing Kenyans and putting the money into a hole.

Those who feed off these phantoms should be sought and brought to book.

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