Uhuru's last directive in office hits politicians and 700,000 public servants hardest

In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a voluntarily 20 per cent pay cut to curb the then increasing wage bill, but later his salary was increased by a 9.1 per cent.

 

The sentiments by the president are set to elicit a mixture of reactions from politicians across the divides.

Uhuru said that the measure as earlier recommended by the Sarah Serem led Salaries and Remuneration Commission is aimed at taming the ballooning wage bill. The nation’s expenditure on salaries to all state servants hit the highest, taking over 50 per cent of the national accumulated earnings.

President Kenyatta argued that it was the leaders’ duty to take the pay cut to “respect the wishes of our own employers, the wananchi”.

“Today, the public wage bill stands at Sh627 billion per year, amounting to 50 per cent of the total revenues collected by the government paid to only 700,000 people,” President Kenyatta told a joint sitting of both Houses on Wednesday.

Revenue stream

The Sh627 billion paid annually to 700,000 public officers is the classic case of man-eat-man society. This is a rare situation in the economy in which half of a country’s revenue lines the pockets of only two per cent of its population.

Kenya has one of the region’s largest number of politicians with 1,940 elected leaders and 1,130 nominated ones across six elective posts. Kenya has a whopping 3,072 elected leaders representing 42 million Kenyans.

And with legislative authority and power to appropriate funds, the leaders have turned cannibalistic, bulldozing their way to heavy pay checks at the expense of other workers and forcing a helpless salaries team to bend the rules to satisfy their huge appetite for cash.

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MPs earlier had hatched a plan to pocket Sh3.3 billion for the eight months their terms will be cut short, as the current Parliament will not sit for a full five years.

Had they succeeded, their move was likely to embolden members of county assemblies (MCAs), who had already demanded Sh5.05 billion for serving a shorter term.

MPs dropped their bid to following a protracted battle with the salaries commission, which had rejected the leaders’ demand.

In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a voluntarily 20 per cent pay cut to curb the then increasing wage bill, but later his salary was increased by a 9.1 per cent.

Equally, Ruto’s salary was increased by 9.1 per cent last year, but the implementation remains held till he is re-elected to government. He had also in 2014 announced a voluntarily pay cut to follow in the footsteps of the president.

“As your President, and as a Kenyan, I fully support the recommendations and I call upon all of us to adopt them,” said the President of the proposals contained in a report from the pay team.

President Kenyatta also faulted workers’ unions which he said had pressured his government into an impossible situation on pay increases.

Doctors, nurses and teachers have gone on strike during President Kenyatta’s term.

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