The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) turned down pay rise pleas worth Sh18.83 billion from State agencies in the nine months ended March, derailing a push by civil servants to increase their takings.
SRC revealed that requests for Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) topped the list at Sh17 billion followed by those to review allowances and benefits at Sh993.58 million and salaries (Sh630.94 million).
The decision dampened prospects for better fortunes of the estimated 954,900 civil servants amid the tough economic times given that CBAs and allowances have offered workers a convenient route to higher salaries for years.
SRC— which sets public sector wages says that the rejection of the requests was based on the need to keep the public wage bill at sustainable levels and lower the wage bill to total revenue ratio.
“SRC is determined to set and advise on desired levels of salaries and wages for the public servants in a manner that guarantees fiscal sustainability of the wage bill and compliance with the existing remuneration and benefits regulations,” the commission says.
The commission approved requests worth Sh1.476 billion with CBAs top at Sh453.89 million, salaries at Sh586.4 million and allowances at Sh264.87 million.
SRC did not disclose the names or number of government agencies and parastatals that made the requests.
This is a drop from the Sh7.78 billion worth of requests that SRC received in a similar period last year where it approved applications worth Sh5 billion.
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 wage bill to total revenue ratio was 40.89 per cent in the financial year to June 2021 and SRC projects it will remain above 40 per cent in the year ended June.
The ratio is significantly above the 35 per cent that is recommended in the Public Finance Management Act.
The public sector wage bill for the year ended last month is projected to hit Sh958.5 billion from Sh930.5 billion highlighting the country’s struggles to tame spending on salaries and allowances for State workers.
SRC has shifted attention to lowering allowances saying that some of the perks are already catered for through the basic pay.
There are currently 247 allowances in the civil service but the SRC says the number will drop in the next three months when it will abolish and merge others.
Trimming of allowances comes at a time salaries will remain unchanged up to July 2025 under a deal between Kenya and the International Monetary Fund to rein in the bloated wage public wage bill.
A review of the allowances will free up an estimated Sh100 billion from the wage bill annually, offering Kenya an opportunity to allocate more funds for development projects and pay the fast-maturing debt.
Civil servants last got a pay rise five years ago and have turned to the juicy perks to enlarge their take-home pay. The number of allowances grew from 11 in 1999 to the current 247, prompting the move by SRC.