Sunday, July 20, 2014

KENYA NEEDS TO DO MORE FOR THE WAGE BILL THAN JUST EVALUATING THE CIVIL SERVICE

The way things look, this year's Christmas will be a nightmare for thousands of civil servants unfortunate enough to fall victim of the Kenya government's overbearing job evaluation exercise expected to be effected as early as November this year.

In a move to cut the national wage bill said to be hovering around 500 billion shillings annually, the Jubilee government has announced sweeping measures to reduce the bloated civil service budget now gobbling over 70 percent of government revenue. The restructuring programme of the public sector will reportedly involve re-deployment, transfers and elimination of "ghost workers."

What the government is not saying is that as part of this process, thousands of workers will be rendered jobless - thrown into the deep end of the unemployment market that is already saturated with millions of unskilled, highly educated and professionally qualified Kenyans. The entry of additional people - estimated at close to 100,000 - into this cesspit of idlers will further destabilise Kenya, a country where 42 percent of its people already live below the poverty line.

During the first year of its existence, the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto announced the creation of over 700,000 new jobs - even though it had promised one million jobs per year during the campaign. Now, with the expected new staff reductions in the public sector, it will be impossible for the government to fulfil its promise of effectively re-vitalizing the labour market and boosting the economy.

But what baffles me most is why we allow reckless spending in the form of questionable allowances; useless official overseas travels; and fiscal wastage of all manner if we really want to reduce the wage bill.

What Kenya needs to do is to: eliminate all the allowances in the public sector; reduce duplication of duties in the two tier government; eliminate budget wastage; clean up our procurement procedures, end corruption and reduce the number of elected leaders and nominated commissioners. We also must get rid of all the Government of Kenya guzzlers from our roads and enforce regulations that bar the use of official cars beyond six in the evening; disallow Cabinet Secretaries from using expensive choppers for transport and enforce work discipline in the civil service.

Anything short of these measures will not do.

Finally, let this so-called evaluation exercise be conducted fairly and justly devoid of tribal, gender or religious considerations. Any form of discrimination will expose the government to criticism and condemnation.

And that is my say.