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Rise in productivity will boost revenue, Serem now advises


Question: The President announced that SRC is working on salary cuts for State officers. What is the progress on this issue?

Answer: Yes, we confirm that the President issued a statement on salary review for State officers as per our report. The mandate of SRC is to set and regularly review the salaries and remuneration of State Officers. In 2013, the commission set the salaries and remuneration for State Officers after undertaking a job evaluation exercise. We are currently reviewing the same based on the economic parameters and sustainability principle. The draft report is ready and consultations with various stakeholders are ongoing.

In 2013, SRC had prepared circulars that capped the salaries of elected officials but these were violated when they came into office. How will the latest effort be binding?

In line with our mandate, the pay structure was released to the employing agencies and through a gazette notice for implementation. These are the salaries that the officers are drawing to date. We are not aware of any violation in relation to this gazette notice.

Job evaluations for public universities, research and tertiary institutions and disciplined forces were pending. Are they complete? What are some of the surprises and major findings?

The job evaluation is ongoing and will be finalised by end of June 2017 in readiness for implementation in 2017/18 financial year. Job evaluation is a job holder-driven exercise and is about understanding the dynamics around the job. In view of this, SRC is visiting all institutions. So far, our team has visited over 20 universities and research and tertiary Institutions in the country. In the case of disciplined forces, the commission visited operational areas such as Samburu range training ground in Isiolo and Afmadow in Somalia. This has helped the commission to have a better understanding of the work environment. The major findings and surprises are to be realized at the end of the process.

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How do salaries of the public service in Kenya compare with similar economies across the world?

Wages for public officers around the world are evaluated against the economic situation of their respective countries and are calculated in terms of the percentage of GDP or revenue and cost of living (to cushion against inflation). Bearing in mind that Kenya’s revenues are low compared to developed economies, our wage bill is high and unsustainable. More so, Kenya’s current wage bill against revenue is 52 per cent compared to the recommended level of 30-35 per cent for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The job of determining salaries is met with resistance. How have you managed to steer the commission through this mandate and what are the highlights of your experiences?

All the constitutional commissions and other newly-created institutions are going through a transformative process that is bound to experience resistance due to lack of understanding, perception and fear among the various stakeholders. This is because change destabilises the status quo. To overcome this, the commission has ensured an all-inclusive approach through intensive awareness programmes and stakeholders participation.

Is the crusade to manage the wage bill bearing any fruits or its just but a public relations exercise?

Wage bill is a factor of two variables (the values and numbers). SRC’s mandate is limited to the value of each job in public service and as far as the values are concerned, it is a big YES that the wage bill management is bearing fruits. It is important to note that between 2013 and 2016, the growth in wage bill averaged 9 per cent annually despite an addition of approximately 40,000 employees in national and county governments over the same period.

Further,- the four-year salary review cycle has brought in some stability, while allowing the economy to grow. The numerous positions that have been created under the 2010 Constitution both at national and county governments, and the unrealistic demands by various public institutions would have made the wage bill rise further without the intervention of SRC. Assuming a 100 per cent increase was to be approved for all public officers against a demand of 300 per cent requested by a majority of them, this would translate to more than Sh1 trillion. This against Kenya’s revenue of Sh1.3 trillion is not only unsustainable but will lead to economic stagnation.

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The commission is working with Ministry of Labour and other relevant institutions to come up with strategies to increase labour productivity in the public sector. We are convinced that with the rise in productivity, revenues will increase leading to improved economic growth. With this, Kenya’s wage bill will fall within the acceptable levels.

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