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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Hardship allowances in civil service need review

Cash
The government should take steps to review hardship allowances paid to civil servants since the country has made progress in some of the areas considered harsh to work in. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government should take steps to review hardship allowances paid to civil servants since the country has made progress in some of the areas considered harsh to work in.

A decade into the new Constitution, devolution has brought development to areas that were marginalised, making them more comfortable for government employees and many other people, including residents.

The World Bank wants Kenya to scrap hardship allowance to save Sh3 billion as part of cost-cutting measures to return the country on track after increased spending during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, State officers enjoying the hefty allowances work in areas categorised as hardship decades ago, but have since developed and no longer qualify for the special tag.

With this reality, it is fair to review allowances paid to government employees in counties considered less developed.

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Parts of Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot counties are classified as hardship areas.

The hardship allowance was introduced as an incentive to teachers and other public officers working in remote areas to compensate for lack of amenities, infrastructure and a challenging environment.

Major infrastructure projects by counties and the national government have opened up rural and remote areas to businesses and investments.

Consequently, civil servants posted to these counties have access to almost the same services as their counterparts in urban areas.

A review of the hardship pay would help the government ascertain places that are still lagging behind, but most importantly free up money for other pressing issues.

However, this exercise should be done with caution. While the calls to cut hardship allowances are justified, some areas might not have most amenities necessary for work.

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