, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has warned that a move by MPs to remove themselves as State Officers will bloat an already unsustainable public sector wage bill, which consumes a third of the country’s budget.
The Chairperson of the Commission Sarah Serem on Thursday said if parliamentarians detach themselves as State Officers, their salaries will no longer be determined by the SRC.
“If they pull out of being State Officers they will impact greatly on the structure of the Constitution because it has a definition of two persons within the public sector; the State Officers and the public services officers. Their pulling out of will force them under the Public Service Commission where they will have to comply,” Serem said.
Serem adds that the constant battle between the MPs and the commission has deviated them from focusing on other areas that needed to be addressed.
“For us we thought we had spent a lot of public energies in addressing one sector of the public officers the MPs where as we needed to get back on the other duties as they compose of only 3 percent of our mandate,” explained Serem.
Serem speaking at a breakfast meeting between the commission and the media said that the SRC remains steadfast in effectively delivering their services to the country.
According to the Deputy Vice Chair of the commission Daniel Ogutu the current public sector wage bill for the financial year is at a whooping Sh458 billion against the total budget of Sh1.5 trillion.
Ogutu explained that Kenya has exceeded its expenditure as we are at 43 percent yet by international standards it is not supposed to exceed 40 percent.
He said that the huge wage bill is not coupled by productivity which poses a great threat to a sustainable economy and funding to of important projects as outlined in the Vision 2030.
Ogutu said with the recent remuneration on wages of the State Officers the country they managed to save Sh1.4 billion adding that this is only 3 percent progress and 97 percent which comprises all other public offices is yet to be addressed.
The SRC last month came out to oppose an amendment that would have removed Members of Parliament, Judges, Magistrates and Members of County Assembly from being categorised as State Officers.
Members of Parliament want to amend some sections of Article 260 of the Constitution that defines them as State Officers.
The move will mean the three groups will be exempt from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), which has a mandate to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State Officers.
If passed into law, SRC says the Bill will have far reaching implications, not only in the determination of remuneration and benefits in the public sector in Kenya, but also the governance of the country.
The Commission noted that the timing and motivation of the amendment by Parliament does not bode well for the country.
They say this is prone to abuse and prejudice in awarding themselves unjustified high wages and benefits leading to a bloated wage bill.
The Sarah Serem-led commission further explained that it will cause inequities since without centralized regulation of salaries; disparities will continue to exist and even increase, thereby creating inequities in pay.
The SRC has previously said: “For instance, the SRC approved a salary structure for National Assembly members, Judiciary and Members of County Assembly at a cost of Sh1.25 billion as opposed to Sh8.43 billion if they were to award themselves their salaries.”
The amendment will leave MPs under the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Service Commission, as has been the case before.
Judges and Magistrates will be under the Judicial Service Commission but it is not clear where members of the County Assemblies will fall.
The battle between the commission and parliamentarians was ignited by a pay cut in their salaries after the commission noted that they were earning too much and the money should instead be channelled into other areas.