Economy

IEBC bosses’ salaries cut in quest for low wage bill

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Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • On the chopping list are salaries of the IEBC commissioners, the DPP, the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), the National Police Service Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Commission on Administration of Justice amid concerns of a ballooning wage bill.
  • IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati is the only chairperson of a constitutional commission not affected by the cuts.
  • Trimming of the fat pay slips is meant to arrest the growing public wage bill that is currently consuming half of government tax revenues, leaving little for development projects.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has slashed the basic pay of the holders of independent offices, nearly a month after taking similar action on senior State officers, Members of Parliament and MCAs.  

On the chopping list are salaries of the IEBC commissioners, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), the National Police Service Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Commission on Administration of Justice amid concerns of a ballooning wage bill.

IEBC commissioners, the DPP Tobiko and chairpersons of commissions will now take home Sh747,461 each per month down from Sh765,188 — a 2.3 per cent pay cut, according to a gazette notice that the SRC, the agency in charge of setting the pay of State and public officers, published last Friday.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati is the only chairperson of a constitutional commission not affected by the cuts and will continue drawing a salary of Sh924,000 per month, same as the Auditor-General, Edward Ouko.

The IEBC vice-chairperson’s pay slip has also been retained at Sh765,188, matching that of Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo.

Trimming of the fat pay slips is meant to arrest the growing public wage bill that is currently consuming half of government tax revenues, leaving little for development projects.

READ: Public wage bill rises by Sh90bn in nine months - VIDEO

The 2010 Constitution created multiple commissions, including the independent office of Controller of Budget, coming along with hefty staff costs that are shouldered by taxpayers.

The SRC’s new structure shows that commissioners and vice-chairpersons of constitutional commissions, excluding the IEBC, are now entitled to a leaner pay of Sh621,250 a month, from Sh650,000 — a 4.4 per cent cut.

The pay cuts have also affected commissioners and vice-chairpersons at the CRA, the Judicial Service Commission, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Public Service Commission and the National Police Service Commission, all of which are categorised as constitutional commissions.

Salaries of members of the National Land Commission, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Parliamentary Service Commission and the SRC have also been cut Sh28,750 a month.

The Registrar of Political Parties’ monthly pay slip is also down Sh28,750 to Sh621,250.

Save taxpayers

The SRC last month unveiled a leaner pay structure, covering 2017-2022, that cut the salaries of incoming MPs, governors, senators and MCAs and abolished sitting and mileage allowances.

Chopping the salaries of elected officials is expected to save the taxpayers more than Sh8.85 billion annually.

Abolishing sitting and mileage allowances of MCAs and MPs is expected to save the economy Sh3.93 billion and Sh1.26 billion a year respectively.

Kenya’s public wage bill, including that of national and county governments, stands at Sh627 billion a year, gobbling up half of government tax receipts and employing 700,000 civil servants who account for only two per cent of the population.

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

ALSO READ: MCAs’ sitting allowance bill drops to Sh1.7bn

This reality has in the past unnerved policymakers since not much is left for development projects, slowing the country’s economic growth wheels.

Kenya’s payroll bill is 17 per cent above the global average of 35 per cent for middle-income countries, a club that Kenya recently joined after recalculating its economic size.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has in the past talked tough against the ballooning wage bill, but recently softened the stance to award the entire civil service the first pay hike by his administration.

In July 1, civil servants working for the national government got a pay rise of between 5.2 per cent and 30.7 per cent, as part of the Sh100 billion pay increment plan staggered over the next four years.

The pay hikes, however, look set to wipe out the benefits of the cuts from the salaries of commissioners and State officers, further burdening taxpayers.