The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) plans to increase travel allowances for State officers attending official duties in towns outside Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru in a move that could pile pressure on the wage bill.
The agency wants to change the current practice where daily travel allowances are pegged on job groups and towns being visited, with those travelling to Nairobi city for instance pocketing as much as 67 percent more than those visiting towns outside cities and county headquarters.
Now, SRC is proposing to scrap the current rates, which have been in place since 2017 and replace them with new ones that will favour State officers travelling for official duty outside cities—Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru.
The changes will see daily local travel allowances go up by between Sh1,200 and Sh8,000 for government officials whose assignments are outside cities, county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha.
The proposed hikes will raise the minimum per diems for local travel by between 40 percent and 66.7 percent, depending on the job groups.
SRC has written to State bodies including the Treasury and the chief of staff and the head of the public service to submit their views on the proposal that also seeks to keep unchanged the travel allowances for international trips.
The payments called daily subsistence allowance (DSA), are meant to facilitate public officers to attend to official assignments away from their duty stations within the country and outside of the country.
“Pursuant to SRC’s mandate, and in line with the principles set out in Article 230(5) of the constitution, and Section 12 of SRC Act, 2011, SRC has reviewed DSA rates in the public service,” says SRC.
State officers in the top grade, F4, are currently being paid Sh22,000 daily local travel allowance for trips to the four cities and Sh18,000 for trips to county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha. Travels to the rest of the towns earn Sh14,000.
Under the SRC proposal, the flat rate for the top grade State officers and civil servants will be Sh22,000, in what will be a 57 percent rise from Sh14,000 for those officials whose assignments have been in towns outside cities, county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha.
The total wage bill hit Sh1.055 trillion in the 2021/22 financial year from Sh784 billion five years partly on allowances, to account for over 50 percent of the ordinary revenues.
SRC is proposing a similar approach for other job groups, opting to pick a flat rate that is equivalent to the maximum allowances, being what those on official trips to the four cities have been earning.
The minimum daily domestic travel allowance will rise by 40 percent or Sh1,200 to match the Sh4,200, being that civil servants in job groups A to E have been getting assignments in cities.
Civil servants in job groups U-V and state officers in grades F1, F2, and E5 will see their allowances harmonised to Sh18,200, giving a 45.6 percent lift to officers within this grade but with assignments in towns outside cities, county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha.
Rates for civil servants in job groups S-T and state officers in grades E3 and E4 will be standardised at Sh16,800, gifting those who have been receiving the least allowances in this group with a 60 percent rise.
There will be a 66.7 percent rise in the daily subsistence allowances to Sh14,000 for civil servants in job groups P-R and state officers in grades E2, E1 and D5 who have been earning Sh8,400 for assignments in towns outside cities, county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha.
Civil servants in job groups K-N and state officers in grade D4 will be getting a uniform rate of Sh11,200 as opposed to the current case where the rate for those on assignments outside cities, county headquarters, Malindi and Naivasha have been getting Sh7,000.
The same harmonisation will be introduced for civil servants in job groups F-J where the allowances will be at the cities’ rate of Sh6,300 as opposed to a range that goes as low as Sh4,200.
The travel allowance review will be a boost for civil servants coming on the back of an upward review on housing allowances.