Kitui County Assembly on Wednesday passed a motion suspending recruitment by the County Public Service Board awaiting employee head count report for breaching the 35 percent wage bill threshold.
The estimated wage bill for Kitui County stands at 36.6 percent of the total revenue breaching the prescribed principle that the wage bill shall not exceed 35 percent.
The motion was moved by Kauwi Ward Rep Jane Mutua following the alarming trend of continuous recruitment which has already blown the wage bill beyond the 35 percent statutory requirement on county government remunerations.
Mutua in her submissions, noted that, since 2017 there had been a lot of challenges especially in recruitment despite the many problems concerning development within the county.
“A lot of money in the recently passed 2019/2020 budget estimates was moved from development expenditure to pay for the rising wage bill which in 2017 stood at Sh1.5 billion to Sh4.1 billion annually,” she said.
Mutua in her submission said the motion sought to establish who were being paid the monies or if it is being embezzled without following due process of recruiting additional staff.
During the fiery debate, the motion sought that the Kitui County Public Service Board furnishes the Assembly with a list of all county permanent and pensionable employees within 21 days.
The data will include employees recruited since September 2017 including casual labourers, provides a statement on whether the recruitment adhered to the requirements on regional balance, gender balance, persons living with disability, the youth and marginalized communities within Kitui County.
Further, the report will include measures the Board was undertaking to contain the wage bill at the legally required 35 percent of the total county revenue.
The motion comes hot on the heels of the recently concluded staff head count throughout the county which used taxpayers’ money engaging consultants for the exercise yet there is no report on the findings of the exercise.
“The Executive arm of the county government does not have a single Tharaka, who are a marginalized community within our county or an appropriate representation of people living with disabilities,” lamented Mutua.
While, supporting the motion, Nguni Ward Rep Jefferson Kiruru said that issues of public service employment are very contentious and hence require proper planning and policy formulation.
“It is always very cardinal that a sound government will always balance between the wage bill and development,” noted Kiruru.
With a ballooning wage bill, “We need an elaborate database of the exact staffing structure of this county from the County Executive so that we can meet the required threshold,” added vocal Migwani Ward Philip Nguli.
Nominated MCA Esther Ndile reminded the House that the Public Finance Management (County Regulations), 2015 gives the guidelines for recruitment which Kitui County has already surpassed.
“We have previously even put it on record that any Minister that violates this law should be surcharged,” she added.
Her Tharaka Ward colleague, Fredrick Nthuri noted that the current employment was not aligned to the recruitment policies of the country.
“Anything that contravenes the Constitution is null and void meaning that these employments are also null and void,” stated Nthuri.
By Yobesh Onwong’a