Civil servants' bonuses, perks cost Sh4.2bn


Salaries and Remuneration Commission(SRC) Chairperson Lyn Mengich at the commission's offices in Nairobi on July 1, 2023, during a press briefing. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

Bonuses, pay increments and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) cost the government Sh4.27 billion in the year ended June, amid a growing push by government workers for better remuneration.

The SRC disclosed that it approved salary increments, requests for bonuses and allowances and CBAs, which ballooned the wage bill—surpassing the Sh2.5 billion increase recorded in the previous financial year and exerting more pressure on the exchequer at a time the government is pushing a fiscal consolidation policy.

Analysis of the data shows that bonuses and rewards accounted for the biggest chunk at Sh1.43 billion (34 percent) that was paid in the last three months of the previous administration followed by salary reviews at Sh1.29 billion and allowances and benefits (Sh1.2 billion).

“The total value of advice for the financial year 2022/2023 amounted to Sh4.27 billion, representing 52.26 percent of the value of requests received,” SRC says in the bulletin.

SRC added that the requests from workers in the just-ended financial year amounted to Sh8.17 billion as workers eyed more pay in the face of inflation.

The sharp rise in take-homes came at a time when the top-performing civil servants started getting cash bonuses under a new public service reward scheme.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) unveiled the reward scheme two years ago with government workers such as teachers, doctors, and nurses who meet annual targets set by performance contracting committees receiving cash rewards on top of their salaries and allowances.

The Performance Management Regulations 2021 paved the way for the formation of an awards scheme targeting employees who exhibit ethical practices and also come up with innovations that lead to improved public service delivery.

Civil servants have upped calls for salary increments amid a spike in the cost of living that has significantly hurt households' spending power.

Inflation—a measure of the cost of living— has since last year held above seven percent, prompting a heightened push from the over 954,900 civil servants for higher pay.

But the calls have hurt the efforts by the government to stem the public wage bill from spiralling amid choking funding obligations on the exchequer.

The Treasury has been struggling to tame the bloated public wage bill that now consumes over half of the total revenue, impeding spending on development projects.

The government is currently hard-pressed for resources to finance its essential projects in the wake of harsh economic times that have impacted revenue collection performance amid growing foreign debt servicing obligations.

The public wage bill was projected to hit Sh1.1 trillion in the year that ended June. SRC further expects the bill to grow to Sh1.17 trillion in the current financial year.

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