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Economy

Taxpayers to pick up Sh2.8bn bill for voting out governors

From left, Outgoing Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Kiambu's William Kabogo and Meru's Peter Munya. PHOTOS | DENNIS ONSONGO / MARTIN MUKANGU / PHOEBE OKALL | NMG
From left, Outgoing Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, Kiambu's William Kabogo and Meru's Peter Munya. PHOTOS | DENNIS ONSONGO / MARTIN MUKANGU / PHOEBE OKALL | NMG 

The voters’ decision to send 25 governors home in Tuesday’s election is coming with a Sh2.8 billion bill for the taxpayers in form of sendoff packages prescribed in law.

Each exiting governor is entitled to a gratuity equivalent to 31 per cent of their annual basic pay for every year served.

Similar payments must be made to deputy governors, county executive committee members, chief officers, county secretaries, and county assembly speakers set to leave with them.

A bevy of the governors’ political appointees are expected to lose their jobs, putting them en-route to earning handsome sendoff packages because they are not entitled to pension.

The incoming 47 county assemblies are also expected to pick new speakers, meaning more exiting officials claiming compensation.

The cost of voting out a large number of governors could be significantly higher if those retained decide to get a new set of county officials for their second term and final terms in office.

'Not sustainable'

Kamotho Waiganjo, who was a member of the now defunct Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, said there is need to review the gratuity model for exiting public officials, citing its heavy burden on taxpayers.

“This is a conversation that needs to happen. From a budget perspective, this is not sustainable. We need to think about it. The cost is even bigger at the national government level,” Mr Waiganjo said in an interview.

“We need to find a way to make it self-contributory, otherwise we’ll get into a deep hole given the high wage bill we already have.”

The inaugural lot of governors were sworn in the last week of March 2013, and the county bosses immediately moved in to appoint county ministers, chief officers, secretaries and chiefs of staff.

County governments’ wage bill stands at about Sh17.7 billion annually for a payroll of more than 47,000 staff, according to data from the Commission on Revenue Allocation.

Kenya’s total wage bill — for county and national governments — stood at Sh675.8 billion against tax revenues of Sh1.365 trillion in the period to June 2017, official data shows.

Outgoing governors, including Evans Kidero (Nairobi), Ken Lusaka (Bungoma), John Mruttu (Taita Taveta), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru), and Bomet’s Isaac Ruto, look set to pocket Sh12.24 million each in gratuity.

Their deputies, as well as those who were dropped after the party primaries, will also go home with Sh8.6 million each for their service — being 31 per cent of their cumulative basic pay for the four and half years they were in office.

Governors earned a basic monthly salary of Sh854,241 per month, while their deputies pocketed Sh615,000 a month in the last year of service, according to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

County executives

Also in the list of outbound county officials are about 250 county executive committee members whose fate is usually tied to that of governors.

Incoming governors such as Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Joyce Laboso (Bomet) will most likely stamp their authority by appointing fresh county ministers loyal to them.

Each devolved unit is allowed to form a county executive committee capped at nine ministers, with a minimum of at least a third of total county assembly members for devolved parliaments with less than 30 ward representatives.

The county ministers were entitled to a basic pay of Sh300,000 per month, according to SRC data, meaning each is likely to  take home Sh4.3 million in gratuity payments.

County assembly speakers are also in the same pay band as county executive committee members, meaning if the 47 incumbents are voted out by incoming MCAs, they will each take home Sh4.3 million.

About 250 chief officers — who wield executive powers and are the accounting officers in various county departments — are also set to go home as the new governors settle in and appoint new officials.

The chief officers earn a monthly basic pay of Sh226,148, which entitles them to gratuity of Sh3.2 million assuming they served the entire 53-month period to date.

County secretaries take home an estimated basic pay of Sh200,000 per month – and they may take home Sh3.2 million each in gratuity if they receive marching orders from the new governors.

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