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Kuria: No turning back on State staff contracts

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.  [Samson Wire, Standard]

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria is pushing for the gazettement of a task force to implement the government’s policy to hire civil servants on contract instead of being permanent and pensionable.

Citing the huge wage bill, Kuria has ignited a heated debate about the transition from permanent and pensionable terms of service to contract. He is now seeking the Cabinet’s nod.

“I will be gazetting a task force to look at the modalities of this and carry out public participation. We are, however, not a dictatorial country. These are just my views. It’s my policy direction. I am going to the Cabinet to have the task force approved because we cannot continue doing things the way we are doing. It cannot work. I request for the support of this House in implementing this,” he said.

The CS was speaking when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Committee on Administration and Internal Security.

He expressed concern over the country’s bloated wage bill and diminishing productivity of staff in government departments over the years.

The parliamentary team was considering the 2024/2025 budget and Supplementary Estimates II for the Public Service, Performance and Delivery Ministry.

“We have a huge problem in the public service. We have people, like doctors at public hospitals, who work for two hours. The absenteeism is alarming. The only time you find full attendance in some government departments is when they are going out of town because they know they will earn per diem,” he added.

Kuria said he was concerned that out of Sh2.2 trillion raised in taxes, Sh1.1 trillion went to the payment of civil servants’ salaries, saying it is unsustainable.

“I do not see that as an economic issue but a moral issue. How can one million people take half of the resources and leave 53 million others to scramble for the Sh1 trillion?” posed Kuria.

The CS denied claims that the change in terms of service was a plot to swindle public servants of their pensions, noting that they would still be entitled to their benefits after the transition.

“The fear has been that people will lose their pensions but I can assure you that the transition will be from permanent and pensionable to contract and pensionable. There will be a framework that will give workers their pensions so that we can also increase our national savings,” he explained.

“If I am on contract, this House is on contract, and the President is on contract, why would anyone who means well be afraid of being on contract? In countries like the United States, the contract system is working well,” he argued.

The government is planning to reduce its wage bill to 35 per cent of total revenue by 2028, in line with the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

President William Ruto has said cutting the number of civil servants is one of the options to be considered.

Speaking during the Third National Wage Bill Conference at the Bomas of Kenya last month, Ruto said his administration is ready to make painful decisions to reduce the wage bill.

“As leaders, we have a choice to lead and make a difference. We must stop chasing what is popular but what is right,” said Ruto.

The President said Civil Servants with fake academic papers will be the first to go.

According to Ruto, an audit by the Public Service Commission revealed that 2,100 civil servants sought employment using fake certificates.

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