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Sarah Serem cuts State officers' pay

Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem at a press briefing on State officers’ salaries at the commission’s offices in Nairobi on July 10, 2017.

MPs were on Monday hit hardest by the salaries commission, which slashed the earnings of State officers, including the President, to save the country Sh8.8 billion annually.

Salaries paid to all ranks of elected leaders — such as the President and his deputy, governors and elected representatives at the national and county levels — will also be fixed for their term.

They will not be increased every year as is currently the case.

The changes, which will be effected after the General Election, also affect appointed State officers such as Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, the Attorney-General, the Chief of the Defence Forces, military service commanders and heads of the police.

REDUCED SALARIES

Heads and members of full-time constitutional commissions — including the electoral agency, Auditor-General and the Controller of Budget — will also have to grapple with reduced salaries.

The sweeping changes announced by Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chairperson Sarah Serem have also hit the Speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly, their deputies and the Majority and Minority Leaders of both Houses.

For those elected either directly or indirectly or recruited competitively, the new pay structure will apply after they are sworn in for a new term.

READ: Senators support measures to cut wage bill

Governors and their deputies have lost their allowances while members of county assembly (MCAs) will not be entitled to mileage reimbursements, sitting allowances for plenary sessions and special responsibility perks.

PRESIDENT

At the national level, the salary of the President, the highest-paid civil servant, has been reduced by Sh206,250 to Sh1,443,750 from Sh1,650,000.

In Parliament, the salary of the highest-earning officers, the Speakers, has been slashed by Sh165,000 to Sh1,155,000 from Sh1,320,000 while at the devolved level, a governor will now earn Sh924,000 from Sh1,056,000.

MPs’ salaries have been fixed at Sh621,250 and their plenary sitting allowances removed.

READ: Cut salaries for elected leaders by half: Clerics

Their salaries, which started at Sh532,500, increased to Sh710,000 in their last year.

Sitting allowances for committee meetings were fixed at a maximum of Sh80,000 for members and Sh128,000 for chairmen while mileage reimbursement has been removed.

LOST CAR GRANT

MPs have also lost their car grant of Sh5 million and will instead be entitled to a Sh7 million car loan in addition to the Sh20 million mortgage.

Many MPs tend to make technical appearances at committee meetings just to sign the attendance register and guarantee themselves the Sh5,000 daily allowance.

SRC had, in 2013, set the maximum an MP could earn from committee meeting sitting allowances at Sh80,000 but was arm-twisted into quietly removing the cap.

The legislators’ transport allowances will now be paid once a month based on rates fixed for the distances covered, which have been classified into five groups.

RETURN JOURNEY

They range between Sh266,663 for a return journey of 750 kilometres and Sh738,833 for more than 1,500km.

For senators, this will be based on the distance from the Senate to the headquarters of the county and for members of the National Assembly, from Parliament to the constituency headquarters.

MPs used to claim reimbursement for the set distance between Nairobi and their constituencies regardless of whether or not they had travelled.

In 2015, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said in a report, following a study commissioned by Parliament, that MPs across the political divide were in the habit of making mileage claims even when they had not travelled.

CLAIMS

“If you notice, what we have done is to remove anything called claims and put in mileage that is payable in the payroll on a monthly basis,” said Ms Serem.

She said the commission had granted members of the two Houses the benefit of doubt because their roles demand that they travel between Nairobi and their constituencies regularly.

READ: Speaker faults fraud claims against MPs

Ms Serem said SRC had reviewed State officers’ jobs over the past four years to determine whether the current pay structure was aligned to the objectives of the Constitution, particularly with regard to transparency, accountability and efficient governance.

She said SRC had compared salaries in Kenya to those in neighbouring East African Community states, South Africa, India, Canada and the United States and also considered Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product and the taxes collected yearly.

BEST-PAID

Ms Serem said Kenya’s elected leaders and representatives were among the best-paid globally and would remain so, adding that the earnings should be commensurate with productivity.

“The ultimate goal of SRC is to bring the wage bill, which currently stands at 52 per cent, to sustainable levels of below 35 per cent of the domestic revenue,” said Ms Serem.

She said the Sh8.8 billion saving would “go a long way in ensuring that the public sector wage bill is within the threshold provided for by the Public Finance Management Act”.

ACCOUNTABLE

Ms Serem added: “We are accountable to Kenyans and, as public servants, we cannot ignore the element of sacrifice as opposed to pay as we serve our country.

We should also strive towards being a producing country as opposed to a consuming one.”

READ: EACC give Parliament 21 days to seal corruption loopholes

Monday’s wage cuts have the effect of keeping the budget for salaries of the Executive — the Presidency and Cabinet and principal secretaries — constant for the next five years.

The same will apply to Parliament and the counties.

With the Constitution clear that the role of the SRC is to set and review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers, the new salaries are not subject to review by any other institution.

: nation.co.ke

 

 

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