NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21- Kenya’s civil servants will earn up to an extra Sh10,000 as hardship allowance beginning next year. Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno announced on Wednesday that the government would harmonise the hardship allowances to cut across all job groups, with the only difference being the severity of hardship conditions.
He explained that those working in moderate hardship areas would earn an allowance of Sh5,000.
“Junior officers who are getting 30 percent of their pay will all move up to Sh5,000 if they are in a moderate area; or Sh10,000 if they are in an extreme hardship area irregardless of their job group,” said the Minister.
The move, he said, would see the government spend Sh500 million more in allowance payouts. The new structure that is expected to come into effect in July will see the budget for the payment of allowances increase from Sh5.2 billion to Sh5.7 billion.
Mr Otieno said: “The basis is the hardship to the officer which has nothing to do with his job group”
Currently, some 30, 400 civil servants are being paid a hardship allowances at the rate of 30 percent of basic salary subject to a maximum of Sh1,200 per month for married officers and Sh600 per month for single officers. Other public service organisations pay between Sh600 and Sh2, 500 per month.
The teaching service pays 30 percent of the teacher’s basic salary irrespective of marital status. Some 94,000 teachers are therefore being paid hardship allowance ranging from Sh3,055 to Sh13, 497.
The Public Service Minister said the management of hardship areas and payment of allowance has become a major source of discontentment, due to the differences in total salary package.
“Due to the disparities, public servants earning higher allowances view the allowance as a salary supplement and partial compensation for deployment in the hardship areas”.
He said this has contributed to resistance to positing to these areas with consequent negative impact on service delivery and staff retention. The adjustment is bound to draw protests especially for the Kenya National Teachers Union (KNUT), which has been opposed to the move.
But Mr Otieno said the matter is being addressed through negotiations between the KNUT and the Education Ministry.
“Compensation for teachers requires a negotiated process. I am a party to those negotiations.” Meanwhile, the government has revised the list of hardship areas to 87 division replacing 25 divisions which will be the degazzetted. Flood prone Budalangi is among the areas classified as a hardship area.
Among the criteria used for the re-examination of hardship areas include the availability and accessibility of food, potable water and high poverty index. Harsh climatic conditions, insecurity and high possibility of security threat were the other factors that were taken into account.