NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – The Treasury came under attack on Wednesday morning at the sittings of the Parliamentary Committee on Education following claims that it was frustrating the resolution of the teachers’ strike.,
Committee members wanted the Finance Minister censured or compelled to conclude the matter to ensure teachers return to class.
Muturi Mwangi (MP Kiharu), Wilber Ottichilo (Emuhaya) and Alfred Odhiambo (Butula) insisted that it was unacceptable for the Treasury to continue hiding behind negotiations with no results.
The MPs were angered by Finance Minister Njeru Githae’s failure to appear before the committee for the second successive day.
“If the Treasury keeps saying that we should keep consulting until Tuesday what are we doing here?” Mwangi asked. “The same Treasury gave Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno money to increase salaries of civil servants and there is no reason for the Treasury to engage in double standards,” added Butula MP Alfred Odhiambo.
Committee Chairman David Koech (MP Mosop) summoned Githae yet again for a meeting on Thursday after he failed to show up for the second day at Wednesday’s sittings.
Koech said that the committee will have the final joint meeting with that on finance to conclude the matter and write recommendations to Parliament.
“We can recommend to the House to censure the minister but because we want to see our children go back to class we have invited the minister for this meeting,” he said in conclusion.
Githae skipped the meeting with the parliamentary committee after Treasury PS Joseph Kinyua wrote to Parliament asking for time to ‘consult internally’.
In the letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly, he wanted the meeting pushed to the next Tuesday.
Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo however protested at the request saying that the matters should be resolved sooner.
Kilonzo said that he presented a memo to the Cabinet on August 30 requesting for Sh13.4 billion for the harmonisation of the teachers’ salaries with those of other civil servants.
He said that he believes that the matter is purely mathematical and easy to resolve.
The secretary of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Gabriel Lengoiboni said that the commission had already worked out the realigned salaries and it was now up to the Treasury to work our modalities of implementing the harmonised pay.
“I welcome the idea of internal consultations but I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the length of time that this matter has taken, I have not found any intellectual component in solving this dispute. Next Tuesday is too far I would prefer that children go back to school tomorrow,” said Kilonzo.
Public schools were certain to remain closed for the ninth day on Thursday following the failure to unlock the stalemate between the government and the teachers’ unions.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers wants the immediate implementation of Legal Notice 534 of 1997 which gives provisions and guidelines on the salaries and allowances for teachers.
Under the 1997 agreement between teachers and the government, they were supposed to receive house allowance which is 50 percent of their basic pay, medical allowance 20 percent, and responsibility 45 percent, special 10percent, hardship 30 percent and automatic commuter allowance of 10 percent.
The government has argued that it cannot implement the deal after a legal notice of 2003 deleted provisions of the allowances for the teachers, leaving them with only hardship and those for teachers in special education schools.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) is also simultaneously demanding an increase of salaries and allowances by 100 percent.