President Kenyatta blamed the bloated wage bill on incessant strikes and go-slows by public servants, who demand pay increments.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has defended its decision to submit pay reviews for state officers to the president despite being an independent agency.
Sarah Serem, the chairperson, said President Uhuru Kenyatta deserves to be informed for planning and other purposes.
“How else would the President get the information? Despite being an independent commission, we believe that we also have a duty to feed information that is useful for planning,” Ms Serem said during a press conference at Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club.
On Wednesday, Mr Kenyatta, in his State of the Nation address, said there is need to cut the wage bill by implementing the SRC’s review of public workers’ salaries.
Currently at Sh627 billion, the wage bill is half of what Kenya collects in revenues annually.
But what is worrying is that the revenue goes into the pockets of 700,000 out of over 43 million Kenyans.
SRC says the wage bill should be cut to no more than 30 per cent of revenues.
For instance, the doctors strike is ongoing; the one for teachers and lecturers was recently resolved.
President Kenyatta said the SRC report on the Review of Remuneration and Benefits for State Officers for the period 2017-2022 should guide the country to design a healthy wage bill.
“As politicians we must accept that our ever increasing salaries and allowances have contributed to the unsustainable demands by other cadres within the public sector to increase their own remuneration at the expense of our people and the country’s development agenda,” he said.
When MPs joined Parliament on March 28, 2013 after the General Election, they earned Sh532,500.
Over the years their pay has witnessed an upswing. From April, they will be taking home Sh710, 000 monthly.
Members of county assemblies too have gained from salary increase. When they got into office they earned Sh79,200 – now they get Sh105, 000.
These amounts do not include allowances and mileage claims and packages that have risen since 2013 — sometimes doubling the amount of salaries the legislators earn.