‘Clueless’ CASs to earn hefty perks as millions suffer

CAS perks

The Kenyan taxpayer will fork out at least Sh2 billion to finance Chief Administrative Secretaries.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • According to PSC, the CAS will be responsible to the Cabinet Secretary in the performance of his/her duties.
  • The PSC has classified CAS under CSG 3, which is equivalent to job Group V, making them entitled to a monthly salary of Sh765,188.

The Kenyan taxpayer will fork out at least Sh2 billion to finance chief administrative secretaries, an office former holders say is a waste of public funds.

Cumulatively, the officials will be taking home Sh17 million every month in salaries, translating to more than Sh1 billion in President William Ruto’s first term.

Every CAS is entitled to a one-off mortgage payment of Sh35 million and a Sh10 million car grant, adding to Sh990 million.

The taxpayers will additionally provide Sh10 million and Sh3 million inpatient and outpatient medical cover for a CAS.

In addition, Kenyans will be financing the running of their offices.

A CAS is entitled to two top-of-the-range vehicles, a driver, an unspecified number of security personnel to be moving around with him or her and guarding their Nairobi and rural homes, a personal assistant and two secretaries.

The government may acquire extra office space for ministries that cannot accommodate another senior official.

In the Uhuru Kenyatta administration, some CASs were housed away from their line ministries due to limited space.

The calculations are pegged on one CAS for each of the 22 ministries but the costs could go up if President Ruto picks more from the list expected to be presented by the Public Service Commission (PSC) early next month after delays caused by legal challenges. 

However, the amount does not include the allowances the CASs will get – including while travelling – and the cost of running their offices.

Even though the Constitution caps ministries at 22, the CAS position that was created by Mr Kenyatta does not limit the President.

Mr Kenyatta named 29 CASs, with some ministries like Health, Transport, Education and Agriculture having two.

While some Kenyans say the position should be used to mentor young leaders, others see it as an easy route to rewarding political allies and election losers.

The PSC has classified CAS under CSG 3, which is equivalent to job Group V, making them entitled to a monthly salary of Sh765,188.

Sh35 million mortgage

Their entitlements include a Sh35 million mortgage (a concessional loan payable at five per cent interest rate) and Sh10 million car grants – or free money – according to former Chief Administrative Secretaries interviewed by the Sunday Nation.

Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Corporate Communications head, Anthony Mwangi, said the agency would review perks for the position. 

CAS is listed below the Cabinet Secretary position but above Principal Secretary.

Cabinet Secretaries are entitled to a monthly pay of Sh924,000 while Principal Secretaries earn 765,188 and other benefits.

Interviews with former CASs revealed most had no defined roles.

“We used to complain of empty offices and no work to do. There was no job description. Everything in that office has to be approved by the PS, including the budget for tea and snacks. Even if you want to travel on official duty, you have to write to the Principal Secretary. We raised some of these issues and asked for a vote for the office to allow things to move,” said Mr Zack Kinuthia, who served as Education CAS before being shifted to Sports.

“We gave recommendations to the PSC. Some ministers thought we were taking their roles.”

Another former CAS told the Sunday Nation in confidence that some colleagues ended up spending as much as Sh5 million on office refurbishment.

He added that it may not be different for the yet-to be appointed CASs as they would likely splash money to acquire items for their offices.

“Some people came into office with exaggerated entitlement. They demanded new carpets, furniture and many other office items,” the official said.

Another former CAS said the appointing authority should be blamed for lack of job description.

The former public official added that things may be different this time.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) informed the Sunday Nation of its intention to appeal the High Court decision that dismissed a case challenging the establishment of the office.

In the legal battle, the society told the court that the CAS position is illegal and would lead to a bloated public wage bill.

The LSK also said it was likely there would be a duplicity of functions of the CAS and principal secretaries, “which would further bloat the public wage bill without corresponding improvement of services”.

LSK President, Eric Theuri, said the organisation does not agree with the reasoning of the High Court and would be lodging an appeal to stop appointments to the position.

Play politics

“There is absolutely no distinction in terms of what the CAS would be doing and what is being done by Principal and Cabinet Secretaries,” the LSK president added.

According to University of Nairobi don, XN Iraki, the CAS position is largely for political reasons with little value to the Kenyan taxpayer.

He said the appointments are meant to achieve inclusivity in government and to help the administration play politics.

“You will see regions not represented in the current ‘big positions’ getting CAS. Mr Kenyatta realised that politicians are better at running the government than technocrats,” Prof Iraki said.

“The CAS position can get the President such politicians. But if we think about the efficiency of running the government and their wage bill, they are not necessary because CSs and PSs can do so effectively. The CAS position makes political but not economic sense.”

The PSC has since shortlisted 240 applicants for interviews that are expected to begin on Wednesday before names of successful candidates are submitted to President Ruto for appointment.

According to PSC, the CAS will be responsible to the Cabinet Secretary in the performance of his/her duties.

The responsibilities include responding to issues/questions touching on the portfolio assigned to the office, providing liaison with the National Assembly and Senate, providing liaison with county governments on matters of concurrent mandate and providing inter-ministerial /sectoral coordination.

Others duties are representing the CS at any meeting as instructed and executing any other duties and responsibilities specifically assigned to the office by the Cabinet Secretary.