President Uhuru Kenyatta
In an unprecedented exercise in the history of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday officiated the launch of the Capacity Assessment and Rationalization of the Public Service (CARPS) at State House Mombasa. The programme will see civil servants registered through a biometric system in an effort to weed out ghost workers and tame the ballooning public service wage bill.
“It is important for governments at national and county levels to verify the number of staff members on their payroll and establish those who are qualified to serve citizens,” the President said.
Uhuru maintained that the overall objective of CARPS is to align Government structures, processes and programmes to the mandates and functions of national and county governments to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery in line with the constitution and vision 2030 and not an exercise to punish or victimize anyone.
“I urge all civil servants to come out willingly and register because it will help us know how many servants we have and what we need to improve in the public service to achieve development,” said Uhuru.
The issue of ghost workers in the civil service and particularly in Nairobi County is one that has for a long time contributed a generous chunk to the soaring wage bill that is threatening Kenya’s economy.
An auditor’s report released early this year revealed that the Nairobi County government had 2,000 ‘ghost workers’ on the payroll.
Recently it was also reported that in the judiciary corridors, some judges and magistrates who had been dismissed by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board were still earning salaries. The same reports allegedly indicate that hundreds of soldiers who left the military between 2007 and 2008 have remained on the payroll.
DUPLICATION OF ROLES IN THE COUNTIES
The promulgation of the new constitution ushered in the devolved system of government which is proving expensive to run.
Devolution has led to duplication of roles in the county governments which has only made things even worse as huge chunks of cash which could have been channeled on development programmes goes to salaries.
During a conference organized by the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Nairobi last year, the IMF warned against duplication of roles at the national and county government levels on grounds that it could result in the country wasting resources in the effort to deepen devolution. The conference objective was to explore the policy challenges Kenya faces in building upon its economic successes to achieve emerging market status.
PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE BILL NOW SH630 BILLION
According to the most recent statistics, Kenya’s public sector wage bill has mounted to a level of 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Currently there are 700,000 public workers being paid by the government. According to the last budget the wage bill stood at Sh458 billion, accounting for 43 per cent of the national budget but due to the huge cost of devolution the current wage bill has risen to Sh630 billion.
According to the newspapers adverts by the government, the biometric data capture will start with employee of the national government from September 1 to September 13 and then move to the county staff from September 14 to October 11, 2014.
According to devolution cabinet secretary, Anne Waiguru, the Government has already completed the training of over 700 senior State officials and developed guidelines on the programme thus the exercise will be completed by October this year.
The Kenya Forum has on numerous occasions raised the ‘ghost workers’ issue and called for the exorcism of the same days on end and to see that the government has finally set up this exercise to address the issue is indeed a step in the right direction, assuming that the process will be carried out objectively, diligently and corruption kept at bay.