Treasury bypasses MPs to release Sh5 billion for striking lecturers

Treasury principal secretary Kamau Thugge. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Treasury principal secretary Kamau Thugge. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Treasury has skipped parliamentary approval and released Sh5.28 billion to meet the pay demands of university lecturers who have been on strike since November 1.

Treasury principal secretary Kamau Thugge told the Controller of Budget that he has invoked a section of the Constitution that allows the government to spend money without MPs’ approval.

Lecturers at public universities have been on strike for the past 23 days, accusing the government of reneging on a March pay deal that offered all tutors a 17.5 per cent pay increase and a 3.9 per cent rise in housing allowances.

The deal was to cover the2013 to 2017 period, but the dons say the government failed to honour the agreement.

This means that lecturers’ current pay are based on 2010 salary deal and not the March deal.

“To avert the ongoing strike by universities staff, approval has been granted to spend Sh5.28 billion under Article 223 of the Constitution to enable payment of enhanced salaries and allowances,” Dr Thugge said.

The Article allows the Treasury to withdraw cash without Parliaments approvals on condition that MPs endorsement will be sought within two months.

The strike is the third one this academic year, a period that has also been disrupted by two presidential elections.

Students set to complete their studies in November and December will be the hardest hit. A number of universities have sent students home and some postponed examinations.

The prolonged electioneering period has slowed business and cut government revenue by Sh51.41 billion in the three months to September, prompting a cut on non-essential items like travel.

Adding to the squeeze, the electoral board was allocated Sh12 billion for the presidential re-run and now Sh5.28 billion has be released for university staff pay. This comes as the government struggles to curb the ballooning wage bill.