Civil service jobs crisis looms on hiring freeze

Public Service Commission
The Public Service Commission (PSC) vice-chairman Peter ole Nkuraiyia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has raised fears over a job crisis following a fresh freeze on civil service hiring despite mass retirements.

PSC vice-chairman Peter ole Nkuraiyia said the ban on employment of non-essential staff has made it difficult to plan for succession and hurts service delivery.

The Treasury has frozen hiring and restricted promotions to curb further ballooning of the wage bill in an environment where tax collections continue to trail targets.

The jobs freeze comes as 60,000 civil servants prepare to retire within three years in what may force the State to retain some beyond the retirement age of 60 due to a skills shortage.

“Challenge of succession management and improving service delivery has stood between us and our goals as an organisation,” said Mr Nkuraiyia.

The Treasury data shows that more than 10 per cent or 59,400 of the half a million public sector workers will retire by June 2020. The most affected staff are at the senior management levels and technical cadres with critical skills and competencies.

“The total number of retirees is projected to rise from 19,300 in the financial year 2017/18 to 19,800 in the year 2018/19 and further to 20,300 in 2019/20,” said the Treasury. More than 18,998 workers have retired over the past two years.

Mr Nkuraiya said the ageing workforce needs to be replaced but this was not possible due to the freeze.

The PSC had earlier advised on the introduction of management trainee plan this year to fast-track graduates into executive roles, trigger promotions and review blanket ban of fresh hiring to ease effects of the ageing workforce.

This would have an effect on the bloated wage bill.

Public service salaries consume half of all revenues and impede spending on development projects in Kenya, a country mired in poverty with about 40 per cent unemployment rate.

The push for the review of the hiring freeze comes as the Treasury looks set to struggle to raise taxes after MPs last Thursday voted to reject a number of tax proposals.

Lawmakers voted to delay a proposed 16 per cent tax on petroleum products for two more years, citing the high cost of living -- a move that will be a blow to government efforts to raise revenues through higher taxes.

They also rejected a “Robin Hood” tax of 0.05 per cent on bank transfers of more than Sh500,000 and an employee contribution scheme towards the national housing development fund.