LETTERS: Move to scrap CRB clearance fees welcome

A graduation ceremony. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The government’s move to scrap the amount payable to get the credit reference bureau clearance certificate, an employment prerequisite for fresh university graduates, is welcome. But a lot more needs to be done to meaningfully quash the hustle-rustle that ordinary Kenyan graduates endure when applying for jobs.

By reducing the charges, a fairer ground for a common youth hailing from a hapless background to get an employment is ensured.

Beyond a shroud of doubt, the move amplifies the possibility of competent youths whose only limitation is the ability to raise fees for the various clearance certifications as articulated under chapter 6 of the Constitution to apply for suitable vacancies and opportunities.

It should worry all of us when youth miss this constitutional requirement not on grounds of character but because of an otherwise avoidable economic constraint. We should be worried because what should be a very competitive recruitment exercise reduced to a competition of those that can afford to raise the sum total of the needed amount to be cleared.

As things stand, only clearance by the Kenya Revenue Authority is free. Otherwise, about Sh 5,000 is needed to have the credit reference bureau (CRB), the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), Certificate of Good Conduct, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Certificate processed. Whereas the getting the EACC certificate is also free, there is a requirement to have a commission of oaths to sign as a witness, which translates to a cost.

There is no doubt that the fees collected goes a long way in running the government and in creating additional employment opportunities but an unemployed youth needs an opportunity to use his or her expertise and getting a reward in form of salaries and wages to meet other expenses.

Youth unemployment has proved a conundrum for policy makers. Complicated by a growing number of graduates who are churned out from universities and colleges every year and a generally exploding youthful population, innovative ways to minimize the burden of clearance in getting an employment and spare the youth from stress and distress are needed.

I tend to agree with those who have observed that the clearance requirement should not apply for fresh graduates seeking for jobs but for mid-level and senior officers. If it has to apply, modalities on payment should be revised.

The social protection policy should consider the unemployed youth in the lens it does the elderly. Without this consideration, may youth talents and skills will be lost or remain unidentified.

According to the recently released census statistics by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics , Kenya has a population of 47 million people. While deep analytics are yet to be completed to inform policy on the welfare state of the youth in the country, other official statistics revealed a declining employment climate, which is further confounded by the number of entities that are on a bustle of downsizing or closing down operations, a trend that spells doom on future prospects for university graduates.

We acknowledge that reducing the CRB charges which requires an applicant to have Sh2,200 to be processed is not the fastidious panacea needed in improving the worry-some state of affairs of the increasing number of unemployed youth but goes a long way, as a policy intervention, in easing the number of obstacles that make it impossible for youths to apply for jobs that they otherwise qualify for.

Obed Nyangena, economist.

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