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New NCPB boss, State locked in pay tussle

Subsidised fertiliser
Subsidised fertiliser at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA 

A newly appointed chief executive of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has not assumed office four months after he was selected, citing low pay.

Joseph Muna Kimote -- currently a general manager at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF)— was appointed the managing director of the NCPB in December by Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.

Mr Kimote was scheduled to take over from Albin Sang -- who continues to act as the MD -- and who was due to retire in January.

“I received the names and appointed Mr Kimote as the new managing director of the NCPB after he emerged top in the interviews, however, he is yet to assume his new role, arguing that what he is being offered is below his expectations,” Mr Kiunjuri told the Business Daily.

“I did my work as required by the law and the rest have left to the relevant body that deals with the issues of salaries.”

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Mr Kiunjuri said the MD position at NCPB has a set monthly pay of Sh500,000 while Mr Kimote is paid Sh700,000 in his current position at NSSF.

Sources said the NCPB board of directors had initiated negotiations to end the deadlock over pay.

“As we talk, there have been negotiations between our board and the new appointee to strike a consensus between the two parties,” said an official at board. Insiders, however, indicated that the approval of higher pay for Mr Kimote would require the input of the Head of Public Service.

This development brings to the fore existing disparities in officers’ perks in State agencies and comes at a time the country has been grappling with a ballooning wage bill.

“The current wage bill is beyond our means. If we are to achieve Vision 2030, this is an area we have to look at,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in 2014 when the issue of civil service pay first came to the fore as a major challenge facing government finances.

At the time, Mr Kenyatta also directed the managing directors of all the State agencies to take a pay.

Tame expenditure

Last month, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) also pointed out that civil servants earn more than 140 different allowances, all of which complicate attempts to tame the expenditure on pay for government and State officers.

Kenya’s wage bill is among the highest in the region, with the government spending more than Sh500 billion on paying public officers alone.

Experts, including the SRC, have argued that at 52 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the wage bill is unsustainable as consumes huge resources that would have been channelled to development.

At 52 percent, the wage bill is higher than the global average of 35 percent for nations in the lower middle-income category, where Kenya belongs.

The new remuneration structure by the SRC in 2017 saw top public servants take a pay cut of between 10 and 20 percent on their monthly compensation.

The Head of State’s monthly pay was for example reduced by Sh206,250 to Sh1,443,750 from Sh1,650,000 in the changes that took effect after the August 8 General Election. The Deputy President salary was also cut to Sh1.227 million from Sh1.402 million.

The changes also affect appointed State officers such as Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, the Attorney-General, the Chief of the Defence Forces, military service commanders and heads of the police.

Heads and members of full-time constitutional commissions — including the electoral agency, the Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget — will also have to grapple with reduced salaries.

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