NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 28 – The spiralling public wage bill cannot be blamed on the new Constitution but poor Government policies, according to law experts.
The former chairman of the Committee of Experts (CoE) Nzamba Kitonga says for instance, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission succumbed to pressure to increase the salaries of Members of Parliaments which cascaded to MCAs, Senators and Governors.
Addressing journalists on Friday, Kitonga also pointed out that some roles in county offices duplicate those at the national level, leading to wastage of resources.
“The wage bill is not a matter of the Constitution. It has been conflicted with the Constitution and I think deliberately, but it is a matter of Government policies and the policies it wants to implement,” he affirmed.
“The other thing is disharmony when you are creating offices at county levels and we have similar officers at the national level that can be deployed there, but are left without work.”
Kitonga however said that some of the challenges being experienced were expected saying they will cease as the country continues to become accustomed to it.
He went on to appeal for ‘civility’ even when facing these challenges which he noted had resulted to heated exchange of words among various arms of the Government.
He added: “I hope the Government will take this opportunity to try and create harmony at policy level, to ensure we have a manageable wage bill.” READ Uhuru to lead talks on public wage bill
Kitonga said that all arms of government were required to complement each other as they exercise their duties of serving members of the public.
He said an old mindset at the Ministry of Lands was to blame for the recent wrangles which he said could only be resolved through dialogue.
He called on the President as the custodian of the constitution to initiate dialogue and even offer legal advice to avoid slowing down the most required reforms on the issues of land.
He warned that the country may not achieve its goal of solving historical land injustices if the disagreements persist.
On proposals to amend the Constitution with a bid to reduce the number of counties, he said that would bring great disharmony in the country as people were already getting used to what they have.
“I don’t think that the 47 counties are to blame… what we need is prudence in the management of our affairs. This will be inviting trouble,” he warned.
At the same forum, the Chairman of the Commission on Administrative Justice, Otiende Amollo said that time was not ripe for the constitution to be amended.
“The form that we adopted of exercise of powers in the constitution is collective exercise of powers; we intentionally moved away from the individual exercise of power which had brought about imperialism,” he said.
“The Constitution we adopted is cheaper than the one we had by half.’
On the imminent health problem, he said the constitution gives the National Government an option of either devolving all functions to the county or a few of them.
“The Constitution does not require the National Government to devolve all health services but it allows the National Government if it so chooses in consultation with the County Government to devolve the services,” he said.
“Health services ought not to have been devolved wholesomely.”
Bobby Mkangi a former CoE member said that if given time, the new Constitution would bring positive change in the way the country was being governed.