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SRC plan shouldn't make retirees lives miserable

Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Chairperson Lyn Mengich (right), Commissioner Dr Leah Mumbua (centre) and SRC Director Remuneration Services Dr Hillary Patroba, during a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday, October 7, 2021.[David Njaaga, Standard]

News that Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) will soon review long-standing benefits with the aim of slashing the retirement benefits of millions of poor civil servants is disturbing.

While it is good to rationalise the pension payment, which has ballooned over the years, the victims need not be the tens of thousands of poor civil servants who have been receiving peanuts for their service to the nation. They do not need to be thrown into retirement of misery.

SRC says it is looking for a consultant to help it overhaul all the current public service retirement benefits' laws and come up with new guidelines bench-marked against the private sector and other countries.

That is in order. Taxpayers have for long been shouldering a heavy burden where most of their money goes into paying pension for public employees. However, we know that the elephant in the room are the big cats in the State payroll such as MPs whose pension bill has been rising dramatically.

True, the 300,000 civil servants will be paid about Sh40.3 billion in the current financial year, a bill that is expected to rise by 7.2 per cent to Sh43.2 billion in the financial year 2022-23.

However, that of MPs has increased at a faster rate of 13.3 per cent to Sh1.7 billion.

Moreover, the government has already started implementing the superannuation scheme in which both the employee and employer contribute to the employee’s pension. This is unlike the non-contributory scheme that has been in place for a long time, and which has been a burden to taxpayers. In the current financial year, the government paid Sh20.8 billion and this is expected to rise to Sh31.3 billion in the 2024-25 Financal Year. The government would better enhance this scheme as a means of bringing down the pension bill instead of embarking on a mission that might make life unbearable for retirees.

More importantly, it should cut wastage within its ranks and fight corruption more aggressively to raise more money to run its affairs