Elgeyo-Marakwet freezes hiring to tame wage bill

Elgeyo-Marakwet County has suspended hiring of new staff to tame the ballooning wage bill.

The deputy-governor Gabriel Lagat who is also the outgoing executive in charge of finance and planning said the county is spending 70 per cent of its revenue on salaries, leaving little cash for development.

Dr Lagat said the wage bill is untenable and only nurses and doctors will be hired to address the biting shortage and holders of constitutionally-mandated offices.

The county government inherited workers from both the national government and local authorities, pushing up the number of civil servants.

“The governor and I have decided to tell residents the truth that there is no employment in our office as we cannot sustain the wage bill,” said Dr Lagat.

The public service chairman Gideon Kipyakwai said the board will carry out a workload analysis before June to determine areas with more workers.

Dr Lagat said the county is investing in areas which will create jobs, adding that Sh17 million has been set aside for establishment of tree nurseries and artificial insemination centres.

“The county will assist youth establish tree nurseries and help them get a market for the trees. This way, we will have created alternative job opportunities,” the deputy-governor said. He said more people will be trained to artificially inseminate livestock so that they can earn a living from offering the services in the county.

“Residents should know that they don’t have to be formally employed to earn a living, but they can also do so through informal employment,” he said.

Dr Lagat said the county will subsidise artificial insemination rates with the government paying Sh1,500 per cow while the livestock keeper will pay Sh500, cash that will be used to pay the person who inseminates the animals and fuel the motorbikes which they will use.

Dr Lagat also urged more farmers to grow tea and said the county will start distribution of tree seedlings.

“We want our farmers to diversify their farming activities so that they can get more money because the over-reliance on maize farming had affected our economy due to the declining production as a result of high acidity levels in the soils,” Dr Lagat said.

Dr Lagat said the governor will be taking the list of the chief officers and the name of the executive in charge of finance to the county assembly this week for approval.