, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged parliamentarians to support an interim report by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) seeking to review salaries of public and State officers.
President Kenyatta who was speaking to a joint session of Parliament in his State of the Nation address Wednesday, said the wage bill had grown to unsustainable proportions posing a major threat to the nation’s development agenda, calling for sobriety in the wage bill debate.
“Today, the public wage bill stands at Sh627 billion per year, amounting to 50pc of the total revenues collected by the Government. This staggering amount is used to pay the salaries and allowances of 700,000 public officers including those of us here today,” the President pointed out.
He warned that the huge spending on salaries of those working in the public sector could plunge the country into an economic downfall if care is not taken.
According to President Kenyatta, 50 per cent of the country’s revenue go to less than two per cent of the nation’s population, straining infrastructural developments which remain vital to achieving a middle income economy status.
The situation, Kenyatta said has further been worsened by rampant industrial actions by trade unions seeking to have salaries of their members increased. Other than running the risk of expanding the already overstretched wage bill, the strikes also have impacted negatively on service delivery and the economy according to the Head of State.
“For the last two decades, there has been a spiralling of the wage bill fuelled by incessant strikes, go-slows and outright neglect of duties. It has denied our citizens crucial services, disrupted the normal functioning of our society, and adversely affected the economy.”
President Kenyatta said the SRC report outlining the Review of Remuneration and Benefits for State Officers for the period 2017-2022 is the only way to take the nation back to its development path.
He called upon the Parliament to honour the will of the people who voted for the Constitution of Kenya (2010) and by extension supporting the creation of the SRC by adopting the commission’s report saying he fully support their recommendations.
Ruling out fears that politicians would be forced to end their political careers broke, Kenyatta assured the legislators that the country had made significant gains in the betterment of the welfare of state workers since independence.
“As politicians we must accept that our ever increasing salaries and allowances have contributed to the unsustainable demands by other cadres within the public sector to increase their own remuneration at the expense of our people and the country’s development agenda,” he said.
Apart from reducing salaries of senior government officials, the recommendations by SRC will also improve wages of the lowest paid civil servants concentrated in the lowest cadres.
The review will also enable the state to offer better remunerations to medical professionals, teachers, members of disciplined forces and other groups of state workers whose salaries are deemed to be lower than the expected standards.