NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – The government on Tuesday moved to calm officials who participated in the recent National Population and Housing Census when it pledged to clear their pay arrears by Monday October 5.
Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya said that those who submitted bank accounts would receive their pay by Friday while the rest would be paid on Monday.
“We know there has been a lot of public complaint about payment but let me assure you that everyone will get paid,” he said.
He explained that the last minute deployment of large number of security as well as chiefs to coordinate the exercise was to blame.
“We found out we were dealing with a huge number of personnel, about 250,000 people. We had originally recruited 145,000 senior enumerators and senior supervisors but we had to involve 76,000 security personnel, 101,000 village elders and others. Verifying their documents before we made payments took time,” he said.
Mr Oparanya added that Parliament’s decision to go on recess before debating the Census’ Appropriation Bill was also to blame.
“The Finance Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, tabled the appropriation account in Parliament. Then he withdrew because of what was happening. When he did that maybe he didn’t know what implication it would have on the census because we planned knowing the Appropriation Bill would be through by the end of August,” stated Mr Oparanya.
He added that the Census exercise only received 50 percent of the amount required to facilitate it explaining that the other 50 percent was awaiting MPs’ approval.
“After the declaration of the budget we got 50 percent of the money but the census exercise required the entire 100 percent of the amount. Unfortunately the appropriation account bill never went through parliament. This made it very difficult for us to get this money,” he observed.
The Minister revealed that Treasury had released some Sh5.2 billion which would be used to facilitate payment.
“We need to put that matter to rest because we have now obtained adequate amounts to enable us clear the payments. So if you are among those who helped with the Census, you should be happy that you are now going to get your money,” he promised.
He also declared that the officials should not worry about the expiry of their contracts.
“I know people have been complaining that the contracts they were given were to expire on September 3. Let me assure them that their contracts will remain valid until they are dully paid so there is no need to call for a demonstration,” he said.
Mr Oparanya also observed that the Census exercise would only come to an end after the findings are released and commended Kenyans for being cooperative during that period.
“Our budget still remains Sh7.2 billion and though we are yet to finish the exercise sometime next year in April, we hope we will remain within it,” he said.
The Census officials were initially supposed to be paid on September 3, but the government pushed that date with a new promise to pay on September 21. This however was not to be and it led to the declaration by some census officials of a planned mass demonstration on October 1.