Big shots to lose perks in new rules
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly and Members of Parliament are among top State officers and public officials whose hefty perks are set to be chopped in proposed new allowances and benefits policy for the public sector.
Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Secretary to the Cabinet, Inspector General and Deputy Inspectors General of the National Police Service have also not been spared.
Others include governors and their deputies, parastatal chiefs, chairpersons of constitutional commissions and heads of independent offices and chairs and members of tribunals and taskforces.
To avoid duplication, redundancy, disparities and varied eligibility criteria, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has proposed that allowances payable in the Public Service be harmonised and streamlined.
This means allowances and benefits paid for similar purposes shall be merged and renamed.
At the same time, allowances and benefits whose rates are not commensurate with the intended purpose such as taskforce allowance, resource, sitting allowance, annual leave and daily subsistence allowance shall be restructured.
However, allowances and benefits that State and public officers are entitled to, including commuter, house and extraneous allowances shall be retained.
Also, allowances and benefits whose rationale for payment is redundant or overlaps with that of the basic salary shall be abolished.
They include domestic and international travel allowances, entertainment, mileage, responsibility, sitting and mileage allowance, among others.
According to SRC, the policy, which has been released for public and stakeholder participation is expected to improve transparency, accountability, equity and fairness, thereby ensuring the total public compensation bill is affordable and fiscally sustainable.
SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich said the more than 247 allowances paid to public officers and which account for 48 per cent of the total wage bill are classified into remunerative and duty facilitating allowances, which are paid to meet expenses incurred in the course of duty.
“Over the years, allowances have become a major component of the total compensation package in the public sector, yet there lacks a common policy on its management,” Mengich says.
The country’s wage bill has been increasing over the years, rising from Sh434.9 billion in 2012/13 to Sh827 billion in 2019/20.
Expenditure on allowances rose from Sh263.3 billion in 2015/16 to Sh322.5 billion in 2018/19.
The Public Finance Management (PFM) Act 2015 stipulates that the National government’s expenditure on the wage bill should not exceed 35 per cent of ordinary revenue,” the SRC boss stated.
SRC boss further said current remuneration cycle will be informed by job evaluation, salary survey, and streamlining of the management of allowances.
“The commission is currently undertaking job evaluation in the public sector, which will systematically and objectively determine the relative worth of jobs.
Process aims at making a systematic comparison between jobs to assess their relative worth for establishing rational grading and salary structures,” Mengich said.
“The salary surveys will provide information on current compensation levels and trends, including policies and practices to inform the commission in setting, reviewing and providing advice on remuneration and benefits for State and other public officers,” she added.
Among the allowances and benefits that will continue to be paid until SRC advises on modalities and the effective date of abolishing them include retreat and participation.
Others include utility and related allowances, responsibility and medical and related allowances, including outpatient medical allowance, dental, optical and inpatient allowance.
Among the allowances to be retained include commuter, house, extraneous, special responsibility, overtime and disability guide allowance. Others are honoraria, risk, transfer and foreign services.
Accommodation, night out and out of station allowances enjoyed by Speakers of Parliament, MPs, Parliamentary Service Commission commissioners and senior staff, among others, will be merged and renamed daily subsistence allowance.
Airtime, mobile and telephone allowances paid to State and public officers to facilitate communication will be renamed.
However, the biggest casualties will be chairpersons and members of a tribunal whose allowances will be structured and renamed taskforce allowance.
According to SRC, some public service institutions constitute taskforces for regular jobs for which staff are paid a monthly salary and that the number of taskforces being constituted has been increasing, thus raising public sector total wage bill.