Economy

Budget Office pushes for civil servants to work from home

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Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Civil servants should continue to work from home and engage in online meetings to cut operational and maintenance costs such as allowances, the professional unit which advises lawmakers on financial and economic matters says.
  • Analysts at the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) reckon that by continuing with the work-from-home policy, the State will reduce billions of shillings spent on training, maintenance of cars and computers.

Civil servants should continue to work from home and engage in online meetings to cut operational and maintenance costs such as allowances, the professional unit which advises lawmakers on financial and economic matters says.

Analysts at the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) reckon that by continuing with the work-from-home policy, the State will reduce billions of shillings spent on training, maintenance of cars and computers, office internet, tea and other perks extended to government employees.

Taxpayers saved Sh7.1 billion on travel and hospitality allowances for civil servants in the six months to September last year, data from the Controller of Budget shows, underlining the huge savings accrued from the stay-at-home working policy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Civil servants were in April last year directed to work from their homes after imposition of restrictions on movement and bans on social gatherings as part of the restrictions imposed to curb spread of the Covid-19.

“Continue with a work-from-home option for public servants and encourage shift to online platforms for meetings. This will reduce demands on operations and maintenance,” PBO says in its analysis.

Allowances on travel and hospitality for civil servants dropped 51 per cent to Sh7.396 billion in the six months to September last year from Sh15.306 billion.

Budget items that recorded the biggest falls included travelling and hospitality through which civil servants have traditionally raked in thousands of shillings especially on working trips abroad or in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The restrictions on meetings denied civil servants opportunities to boost their wages through perks such as mileage, sitting and subsistence allowances earned from local and foreign travels.

The World Bank says that public servants use the trips to enlarge their salaries, where daily subsistence allowances (DSA), domestic and international travel fall under ‘other items’ other than the wage bill.

Kenya started easing the restrictions in July but only a limited number of employees, mostly those handling critical tasks are allowed within the government offices.

But the Treasury said that restrictions on meetings, travel and trainings for civil servants will remain in the coming months, extending the perks drought for public servants.

The World Bank in its latest review of Kenya’s expenditure says the country will save up to Sh30 billion in the year to or Sh2.5 billion monthly from civil servants’ reduced local and foreign trips — which often involve lavish travel allowances.