President Uhuru Kenyatta has backed the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s decision to reduce the pay for State officers and get rid of a range of allowances.
Although the commission’s decision does not need the approval of any other institution, President Kenyatta’s support is the kind of backing that would make it hard for politicians in his camp to speak to the contrary.
In a speech from State House before he started his campaign tours on Tuesday, President Kenyatta said the commission’s decision “settles these matters in the way the Constitution envisioned”.
“The days of wasteful allowances and peculiar but inexplicable payments are behind us. Better and more prosperous days lie ahead,” he said.
The President commended the diligence of the salaries team and its chairperson Sarah Serem and said its work would go a long way into guiding management of public funds.
He said he was particularly pleased that the commission had provided crucial factors key to planning in any administration: details of pay public servants can expect, comparison of wages to ensure fairness and clear and transparent guidelines for testing what is fair and not exorbitant, to avoid waste.
President Kenyatta urged civil servants and State officers to support the commission and to abide by its guidelines.
“All of us in the public service must remember that this is a calling and that is what servant leadership is about,” he said.
And while supporting the move, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) asked those who join the government after the August elections not to discredit the work that the commission has done.
In a statement, Kepsa said if not checked, the country’s wage bill would take a toll on the economy and result in diversion of spending from projects with the highest impact on economic growth, poverty reduction and the well-being of Kenyans.
“We look forward to implementation of all the other measures in the National Call to Anti-corruption Action Plan to curb loss of public funds especially in procurement,” said Kepsa.
The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) also welcomed the salary cuts but criticised the timing.
Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said saving Sh8.8 billion “is significant but insufficient”.
“It is curious that SRC announces salary cuts at the time the cost of living is rising fast. Such a move is unsustainable. It would compel those affected to create uncivil alternatives to bridge the deficit,” said Mr Mutoro.
Machakos governor Alfred Mutua and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba also backed the salary cuts.
“We cannot afford to have a country of a few millionaires and millions of poor people,” said Dr Mutua during his campaigns in Machakos.
Mr Namwamba described the commission’s measures as “a giant step towards our long cherished dream of equity and sustainability in the public wage structure.”
In the commission’s announcement on Monday, salaries paid to all ranks of elected leaders such as the President and his deputy, governors and other elected leaders will be fixed.
Additional reporting by Stephen Muthini, Ouma Wanzala and Kennedy Kimanthi