, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 11- The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution and the government are embroiled in a bitter standoff following a salary dispute.
The government on Monday directed the Treasury and the Public Service Commission to review salaries for CIC commissioners and the secretariat downwards, saying proposed perks were costly and a burden to taxpayers.
Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua told a news conference that the government would not implement the proposed salary scale for the commission.
Earlier, the CIC admitted that salaries had not been paid for seven months and accused the Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura of frustrating their work.
“The directive by the Head of Public Service stopping the processing of Commissioners’ dues amounts to instructing ministries to violate the express provisions of the law and create the illegal and false impression that government policy, and in particular his directives supersede the law,” vice chairperson Elizabeth Muli told a news conference.
She added; “This directive which has not been applied to other offices which earn similar or higher pay is selective and targets CIC specifically.”
Ms Muli claimed that the first of these challenges coincided with the stand CIC took with respect to the unilateral nominations for the offices for CJ, AG, DPP and Controller of Budget.
The delay in recruitment of the required staff has been occasioned by failure by the Executive arm of Government to implement the agreed terms and conditions of service for the Commissioners.
The delay in implementing the agreed terms and conditions of service for Commissioners was occasioned by a communication from the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet purporting to halt the determination of terms of service in the public sector.
She defended the salary rate saying that “the commission wants to attract the best minds in the country by assuring them of the best remuneration”
Dr Mutua however rushed to Mr Muthaura’s defence against claims of sabotage, saying that the commissioners where trying to poison him in the eyes of the public.
“They call it sabotage because they want to put pressure but the government will not give in; Kenyans cannot handle what they are asking for,” stated Dr Mutua.
But in a quick rejoinder after Dr Mutua’s press conference, CIC posted a Tweet, saying “the terms offered and accepted by CIC fall within Band A1 set out in the Constitutional offices Remuneration Act 2009 for public servants.”
In communication dated July 7, the Head of Civil Service wrote to Mr Nyachae explaining that a circular sent to the PSC regulating the level of pay and benefits applied to all government employees include those holding constitutional offices was well in order.
“Remuneration to members of Commission established under the Constitution cannot therefore be set in isolation of government policy in determining for specific jobs keys among them the considerations being equity, affordability and sustainability of the pay levels,” he said.
The commission protested the circular saying that Section 17 of the CIC Act provides that the terms and conditions of service for the commissioners shall be determined by the Public Service Commission in consultation with the Treasury.
They further assert that they had accepted terms offered to them in May which fall within Band A1 set out in the Constitutional Offices Remuneration Act, 2009 for public servants.
In this band, the highest paid commissioner would bag a salary of Sh916,500 and maximum allowances of Sh442,000. The lowest salary is Sh399,440.
The government on its part argues that CIC had proposed that the chairman earn Sh1.3 million, while the vice chairperson gets Sh1.17 million with the commissioners each earning Sh1.14 million per month.
Dr Mutua said the salary rate would set a dangerous precedent for future commissions.
“How can we agree to pay people billions of shillings per month when majority of our citizens are walking to work and struggling to put food on the table? It is unsustainable”
Dr Mutua added: “Government will not accept to be blackmailed into paying. They (CIC) are basically blackmailing the people of Kenya by saying that unless you pay us this much we will not do our work properly.”
The commission had warned that it is considering releasing some of it commissioners to serve on part time basis as part of cost cutting measures but warns that this will lead to delay of crucial Police and Land reform Bills and devolutions Bills which are supposed to be in place by August 2012 and December this year respectively.
The commissioners are further considering suing the government for breach of contract.