MACHAKOS, Kenya Apr 12 – Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has vowed to implement his plan to award special allowances to health workers in the county, despite the disapproval by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
Addressing the media at his Mavoko office in Athi River sub-county on Sunday, the Governor noted it was critically urgent to motivate the health workers, who have put their lives on the line in order to fight the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The virus had killed eight people in the country by Sunday and infected 197 others, as the global death toll went above 100,000 with more than 1.4 million infected.
Mutua termed a letter by SRC disapproving his decision as ‘being in bad taste’ and accused the commission of not being in touch with the real challenge facing the country.
SRC’s Chairperson, Ivy Mengich in a letter dated April 9th 2020, said Mutua’s announcement declaring allowances to the healthcare workers was not only unlawful, but also unprocedural as he had not sought prior approval by the commission.
Mutua has offered to pay special allowances ranging from sh 5000 to sh 20000 in order to motivate the health workers as they battle the spread of Covid-19 in the county.
But Mengich argues that Mutua’s decision is a recipe for human resources crisis and disputes arising from inadequate financial capacity at the national level to cope with anticipated demands.
“Due process has to be followed in the introduction of any new allowances by way of seeking advisory from the commission as required by the law. Award of and payment of such allowances without the advisory of the commission is likely to cause inequity in remuneration across the health sector in the counties and lead to instability in the sector,” Mengich said in the letter, which was copied to the county public service boards.
Mutua maintains that the country must give the highest priority to the welfare of health workers who are the front liners in battling the spread of the dreaded disease.
He said his directive was arrived at after adequate consultations with relevant stakeholders at the county level informed by the severity of the dangers posed on health workers as the front liners in the fight against COVID- 19.
The Council of Governors fully supports the move.
Invoking Article 174 of the constitution, the governor argued counties were mandated by the supreme law to make decisions which affect them. “This essentially means that county governments as democratically elected governments should not be micro-managed by bureaucrats who have no mandate from the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, threw his weight behind Mutua who in a statement released to the press termed SRC’s sentiments as ‘grossly insensitive.’
“The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) should stop being mechanical in its approach to issues. The latest statement by the SRC Chairperson on allowances for the health workers is not only insensitive but depicts the Commission as an outfit that has either lost touch with the reality or is totally idle,” he said.
The MP urged county governments which have opted to motivate their health workers not to turn back and urged the national Government to waive their income tax for a specific period.