Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has said the current public wage bill is an obstacle to implementation of the government's flagships projects, saying it must be contained.
Ruto said the national and county governments should support harmonisation of public servants' salaries as part of the grand strategy to reduce the wage bill.
The Deputy President cautioned Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and elected leaders among other top government officials against hiring advisors, saying such a move was contributing to the ballooning wage bill.
"Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries or elected leaders must do away with advisors to address the ballooning wage bill," said Ruto.
"How can a Cabinet Secretary have five to six advisors? It simply means you do not know what you are doing. Just resign. Some of us when we were minsters we didn't have advisors," added Ruto.
Ruto said the implementation of projects including roads, provision of electricity, healthcare and expansion of water projects would suffer if the development expenditure continued to dwindle due to pressure of wages.
"This situation threatens not only our future but our present too, as this involves the stability of our present economic framework. We must do something to tame this runaway wage bill," said Ruto.
Speaking during the end of tenure for the Salaries and Remuneration Commissioners (SRC) held at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday, Ruto said the public sector wage bill was unsustainable and unacceptable.
He asked Public Service Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki to urgently liaise with the county governments and come up with bold steps aimed at ensuring that the remuneration of public officers was managed transparently.
"There is no need for 40 million Kenyans to pay taxes which will only benefit 10 percent of the population in form of salaries at the expense of improving infrastructure, provision of electricity and expansion of water projects," said Ruto.
"We must make sure that we use taxpayers' money to benefit all Kenyans not just a few," added Ruto.
The Deputy President said SRC had made significant progress in addressing the issues of disparity, productivity and harmonization of public servants salary structure, which must be adhered to.
"I want to thank you for streamlining pay packages and getting rid of skewed remuneration. A harmonized and affordable wage bill is the beginning of a public service revolution. I also want to applaud you for guiding pay to be a reflection of the work we do," said Ruto.
Ruto, at the same time, said there was need to strengthen the culture of competency based performance in the public sector with the aim of rewarding high achievers and sanctioning non-performers.
He said this would strengthen performance and make Kenya an economic giant in Africa and beyond. Results based management therefore would be used as a strategy to achieve the desired productivity and performance and vision 2030 goals.
"We want the economy to prosper so that we can continue to generate jobs for our youth and women, encourage entrepreneurs and attract investment," he said.
"And as the government continues to carry out economic reforms, implement the development plans and invest in infrastructure, the role of constitutional commissions will continue to be even more important for all the sectors to thrive," he added.
Kariuki said the steps that have taken by SRC have greatly helped in determining the true worth of public sector jobs.
SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem said the Commission has boldly carried out job evaluation exercise.
"We concluded in 2017 and the historic assignment will be felt in the years to come. Government institutions should therefore address the two wage bill variables, value and number of its employees," said Serem.
She said the wage bill has increased due to the various establishments that had to be undertaken because of devolution.
Chairman of Council of Governors Josephat Nanok praised SRC for the work it has done to address the problem of soaring wage bill.
"Had it not been for the firmness of SRC, there would have been a lot of chaos in the implementation of devolution," said Governor Nanok.