The soaring wage bill has raised concerns after the Nakuru County government allocated nearly half of its Sh13 billion budget to salaries.
The county assembly is concerned the 2017-2018 budget the Kinuthia Mbugua administration unveiled had set aside Sh5.3 billion to salaries, Sh3 billion more or a 76 per cent increase.
Budget and Appropriation Committee chairman Moses Ndung’u noted the wage bill had continued to increase even after 162 county staff retired in the previous fiscal year.
The assembly now wants the department of Public Service Management to provide a report on the number of staff who have retired, per department, since 2013.
Last year, the county assembly, in a bid to regulate the wage bill, ordered the county executive to freeze employment of new staff.
However, the assembly did not stick to its decision, approving Sh17 million for recruitment of 100 enforcement officers and Sh18 million for hiring 165 early childhood development teachers in the 2016-17 budget.
The budget committee also proposed a further Sh20 million in a 2016-2017 Supplementary Budget for recruitment of 220 enforcement officers despite the raging concerns.
Thus, the county executive has continued to recruit new staff despite the sharp rise in expenditure on salaries and allowances.
In the current budget, Ndung’u said his team reduced the Sh10 million set aside for hiring temporary staff arguing this has contributed to high wage bill.
The budget team scoffed at the executive’s plan to slash to reduce cash meant for the 55 wards to Sh15 million. The MCAs went ahead to restore the Sh30 million meant for each ward, pushing the allocation to Sh1.65 billion, up from Sh825 million. To fund the increase in allocation to the ward resource kitty, the budget committee proposed that allocation to various sectors be reduced.
“The adjustments are not a reduction of the county expenditure but rather, restoration of the kitty reallocated to wards,” Ndung’u said on Thursday.