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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Resolve salary impasse in counties immediately

Health workers
Health workers at the Nakuru Provincial General Hospital during a strike in 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The disruption of operations across several counties due to delayed workers’ salaries is regrettable and urgent measures need to be taken to restore normalcy and ensure workers get their pay on time going forward.

Counties are a critical part of the country’s growth engines and any distractions to their day-to-day functions is always of serious concern to the public and, as such decision makers ought to ensure that county operations are not disrupted by logistical problems, such as releasing money to pay salaries.

Articles 185,186 and 187 of the Constitution bestow key functions on the devolved units including healthcare, agriculture, trade development, county infrastructure and soil and water conservation.

This responsibilities call for focus and continuity to avoid reversing the gains made so far in consolidating socio-economic growth at the grassroots.

It is therefore unfortunate that a stand-off over delayed salaries has degenerated into withdrawal of labour by employees across several counties. By yesterday scores of counties reported disruption due to employee strikes.

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As such, all necessary effort should be made to avert knocks on the economy. The economic situation in this country is already dire and Kenyans cannot afford further hits from avoidable issues such as strikes.

The workers’ push for payment of delayed salaries is justified and it is only proper that action is taken to facilitate the clearance of their dues at the earliest to ensure that their families are not subjected to unnecessary distress.

Resolving the resulting impasse calls for sober consultations between the Senate and the National Assembly to unlock funds to the counties. The disagreement by the two Houses of Parliament over the Division of Revenue Bill —which guides sharing of national revenue between the national government and counties — risks dealing a major blow to the country’s economic growth prospects and priority should be given to ending the impasse as soon as practicable.

Representatives from the bicameral Parliament should have the economic interest of this country at heart and rise above parochial interests to unlock funds for the counties.

The stand-off should also sound a wake-up call to counties to improve their own-source-revenue collection so as to limit reliance on disbursement from the national government.

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