Kenya has been grappling with a ballooning wage bill in recent years, a scenario that has seen a high percentage of the national budget go to remuneration as opposed to development.
The citizenry has been decrying the colossal size of government and pushing for the easing of this burden to boost service delivery.
After interrogating Kenyans on the matter, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force has made a raft of recommendations that could drastically trim recurrent expenditure and take more money to the people as follows:
1. Abolish sitting allowances A whopping KSh 322 billion was paid in allowances last year alone compared to about KSh 130 million in early 1990s, pushing up the total wage bill to KSh 795 billion.
To tame the current wasteful allocation of funds to salaries and allowances in both levels of Government, the BBI has proposed that sitting allowances be abolished.
2. Entrenched development budget The BBI has proposed that a ratio of at least 70:30 development versus recurrent expenditure budget be agreed on and written into law. The ratio is expected to be applicable at both the national and county government level.
3. Rationalisation of jobs Duplication of roles in both levels of governments, and overstaffing in county governments, has greatly continued to wastage of resources. There BBI has called for the elimination of replicated functions, and the rationalisation of jobs within the county governments, particularly where there is over-staffing and duplication.
4. Winding up parastatals The BBI report recommends that all parastatals carrying out similar functions as counties should be shut down or restructured. This, it states, should be synchronised with the implementation of the already completed parastatal reforms policy.
5. Freeze Public Service recruitment To further lower the wage bill, the taskforce proposed that ‘natural wastage’ be utilized and a recruitment freeze applied to lower the size of the Public Service. Natural wastage is the reduction in the size of a workforce as a result of voluntary resignation or retirement rather than enforced redundancy.
6. No allowances for ministers The BBI report proposes that a significant percentage of Cabinet ministers be drawn from the Parliament. The ‘politician’ ministers will only earn their parliamentary salaries, making the Cabinet less expensive.
7. Rationalise all salaries To further lower recurrent expenditure, the BBI recommended that the powers of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission be enforced to rationalise all public sector salaries in the country and address the large discrepancies in income. There is a further call to harmonise the pay in the county and national governments.
8. Elimination of wasteful expenditure To further tame wasteful expenditure across governments, the report recommends that applicable laws are applied to ensure that items such as new cars or office refurbishments for incoming senior officials follow proper procedure in planning, budgeting and procurement.
9. Empower Controller of Budget The task force at the same time recommended that the capacity of the Controller of Budget to be able to detect and respond in a timely manner to misappropriation, wastage, and illegal processes be strengthened. 10. Transparent ward development To ensure that wananchi get value for money, the BBI report stipulates that measures be put in place to ensure that financing the development of each and every ward is done in a transparent and equitable way within the five-year term.