SRC should read public mood on pay review


Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua addressing media at the Deputy president official residence on June 21, 2023 after holding a meeting with Constitutional Commissions and Independent Offices. With him is the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Chair Lyn Cherop Mengich. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

President William Ruto has made a smart political move rejecting a proposal by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to raise the basic monthly pay for State officers, including himself, by up to 14 percent in the next two years.

His government has hardly covered itself in glory when it comes to austerity during the nine months it has been in place.

But by asking the SRC to leave the senior officials out of the salary increment plan and appearing to root for the low-cadre civil servants instead, the President succeeded in defusing the public anger that was building up over his administration’s perceived insensitivity to the struggles of taxpayers.

If the President seems to read the public mood right, the SRC chiefs clearly don’t get it.

On Saturday, they came out to defend the compensation review proposals, citing the commission’s legal mandate to do so and the fact that the proposals made through a process that started three years ago are still to be subjected to public participation.

Yet it is not the SRC’s powers that are in question in this case.

What we have a problem with is the commission’s ill-timed decision and utter indifference to the feelings of many Kenyans struggling to make a living amid the high cost of living.

The commission has in the past also come under scrutiny for its failure to address compensation gaps in the public service.

Proposing fatter salaries for top government officials, which would effectively cushion them against the rising cost of living, marks a new low for the SRC.