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Economy

Ministers’ advisers cut to 2 in changes

Ministers and principal secretaries have had a
Ministers and principal secretaries have had a free hand in hiring the aides, normally cronies, and burdening taxpayers with their unregulated pay. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Advisers attached to Cabinet Secretaries will be limited to two for each minister who will also lose the powers to hire and fix the pay of these aides if new regulations are adopted.

The proposals state that hiring of personal assistants or aides will be done by the Public Service Commission (PSC), which will also set their salaries.

Ministers and principal secretaries have had a free hand in hiring the aides, normally cronies, and burdening taxpayers with their unregulated pay.

The regulations come amid a simmering disquiet in the civil service over the high number of advisers in ministries, mostly plucked from the corporate world.

Now, the PSC wants to limit the number of advisers attached to CSs with talk that each minister on average have up to five aides.

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“Where the Commission appoints advisers for a Cabinet Secretary, it shall not appoint more than two advisers at a time,” say the regulations.

“The Commission shall determine the grading and terms of service of each adviser.”

The new rules will also seek to curb the practice of hiring aides from the corporate world with a bias to tap them from the public service.

The Commission will source for personal assistants from among workers already employed in the civil service.

The decision to limit appointment of taxpayer-funded aides could be seen as a strategy to curb staff costs that remain a headache.

Kenya’s public wage bill stands at Sh627 billion a year, taking up half of government tax receipts and employing 700,000 civil servants who account for only two percent of the population.

Mr Jerry olé Kina, the first deputy secretary-general of the Union of Civil Servants, says the trend of ministers having many advisers is worrying.

“Why can’t the Cabinet Secretaries pick their advisers from the public service? What’s happening now is a morale-killer. It is disastrous having some young, clueless person, who just because of proximity to the minister, is giving orders to someone who has been in the service for 25 years,” Mr Ole Kina said earlier.

Most of the advisers have created a ring around ministers and in some instances even issue directives to technocrats, a practice the new rules seeks to curb.

“An adviser shall be responsible to, and support, the requesting State officer and shall not be assigned any role that is performed by other officers in the public body,” says the new rules.

“That the technical competencies, skills and experience possessed by the proposed adviser do not exist in the public service.”

The PSC regulations also state that the hiring of personal staff for President, his deputy and former presidents will be done by the Commission.

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