4 March 2018

Kenya: Counties Reduce Salaries, Allowances to Check Wage Bill

Counties gobbled up Sh1 billion on trips while MCAs pocketed Sh152 million in sitting allowances, a quarterly report by the Controller of Budget shows.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission's plan to check the ballooning public wage bill appears to have borne fruit, with the report revealing a reduction in allowances and salaries paid to elected leaders.

The report also shows how devolved governments irregularly exceeded the expenditure ceilings on sitting allowances for Members of the County Assemblies, barely three months into the financial year.

Ms Agnes Odhiambo put on spot Bungoma and Taita-Taveta counties, which surpassed the SRC recommended monthly cap of Sh80,000.

EXPENDITURE

It is however unclear how the assemblies absorbed the funds yet they were dissolved by July ahead of the August 8 General Election.

They resumed in September after ward reps were sworn into office.

At least 16 assemblies did not record any expenditure during that period. They include Garissa, Kajiado, Kirinyaga and Kisii counties.

"County Assemblies that reported higher expenditure on committee sitting allowance than the recommended monthly maximum were Bungoma at Sh112,491 and Taita-Taveta at Sh92,131," Ms Odhiambo said.

Busia and Machakos MCAs however earned the least sitting allowances at Sh2,385 and Sh2,944, respectively.

Others that did not hit the Sh10,000 mark are Siaya at Sh3,591, Tharaka-Nithi at Sh3,492 and Murang'a at Sh5,913.

ALLOWANCES

The Sh152 million earned was a 19 per cent decrease from Sh638 million spent in a similar period in fiscal year 2016-2017, a milestone in efforts to bring down the wage bill.

Every MCA took home an average Sh22,892 per month in sitting allowances, a decrease from Sh93,857 earned in a similar period a year earlier.

An analysis showed the 47 counties spent Sh27 billion on salaries and allowances, a 6.3 per cent decrease from the Sh29 billion spent in a similar period a year earlier.

"The expenditure remains high," she noted, warning that it would limit implementation of many county programmes if not addressed.

FOREIGN TRIPS

The Sh1 billion expenditure on domestic and foreign travels between July and September was incurred by the county assemblies and executives, including governors.

Narok is listed as the biggest spender at Sh92 million, followed by Kiambu and Homa Bay at Sh56 million and Sh53 million respectively.

The cash spent on travel is a decrease from Sh2.78 billion incurred in a similar period a year earlier.

The 47 counties have set aside Sh9.7 billion travel allowance for governors, executives and ward reps. The cash includes flight tickets and accommodation.

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