It will cost the taxpayer Sh10 million a year to keep a Chief Administrative Secretary in office

Counting Kenya Shilling Notes

The gross monthly salary of a CAS is capped at Sh780,000, which is higher than the Sh710,000 an MP pockets every month.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

It will cost the taxpayer at least Sh9.4 million a year to pay a Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), adding to the country's wage bill, according to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) job evaluation.

The remuneration, which excludes benefits such as Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) for local and foreign travel, transport, medical, pension, group life insurance, group personal accident car loan and mortgage, amounts to about Sh46.8 million over a CAS's five-year service.

The details come from the SRC's job evaluation data obtained from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The job evaluation report shows that the gross monthly salary of a CAS is capped at Sh780,000, which is higher than the Sh710,000 an MP pockets every month and includes Sh459,113 basic salary, Sh165,000 house allowance and Sh155,887 salary market adjustment.

"The SRC has determined the monetary value of the job of a CAS at Grade F1 and would like to advise on the associated remuneration and benefit structure," said SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich in the letter dated 14 March 2023.

The letter was addressed to PSC chairperson Amb Anthony Muchiri and copied to Head of Public Service Felix Koskei, National Treasury PS Chris Kiptoo, Public Service PS Amos Gathecha and Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu.

"The monthly remuneration recommended herein shall be fixed for the tenure of the CAS unless reviewed and recommended by the SRC. For the purposes of gratuity and pension, the pensionable remuneration is based on the monthly basic salary," adds Ms Mengich.

According to the SRC, a salary market adjustment is "a salary adjustment that takes into account market positioning and the constitutional and statutory principles for the review of remuneration and benefits".

President William Ruto is seeking to appoint CASs in a bill before Parliament as part of a bid to reward loyal politicians who lost in the August 2022 General Election.

The government-sponsored National Government Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, which has already sailed through second reading, seeks to amend the National Government Coordination Act of 2013 to enshrine the CASs.

The bill was proposed after the court nullified the 50 CAS positions created by President Ruto and appointed individuals, most of whom were his political friends who lost in the last elections.

The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly, in a report to the House on the Bill, had limited the number of CAS positions to 22.

But within days of tabling its report, the committee, chaired by Tharaka MP George Murugara, made a hasty retreat and removed the cap, effectively giving President Ruto the leeway to appoint as many CASs as he wanted after "reconsidering" the Bill in an addendum to the report.

"Given the different roles that may be assigned to a CAS, JLAC noted that the cap on the number of CAS may affect the Executive's ability to recruit and deploy the number of CAS required to implement its programmes," the addendum to the report reads.

The implication of JLAC's recommendations is that if President Ruto continues to appoint 50 CASs as he did in March last year, based on the SRC assessment, it will cost the taxpayer Sh2.3 billion over five years and Sh468 million in one year to remunerate CASs.

The cost of compensating CASs over five years is enough to construct 234 standard boreholes with all fittings to tackle the threat of drought in the country's arid and semi-arid areas, as well as a good number of Junior Secondary School (JSS) classes.

It costs close to Sh10 million to construct a fully equipped borehole and about Sh800,000 to construct a CBC classroom. 

If the Bill becomes law, CASs, although not state officers, will be above MPs in the pecking order and will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the PSC, but without the involvement of MPs. MPs are state officers.

Once appointed, a CAS is entitled to official transport, which includes the provision of an official GK car with an engine capacity not exceeding 3000cc.

Apart from the official GK vehicle, a CAS is entitled to a car loan of up to Sh8 million and a mortgage facility of up to Sh35 million with an interest rate of three per cent per annum on a decreasing balance for the duration of the loan.

"The car loan and mortgage shall be centrally administered and managed by National Treasury within the existing necessary regulations governing the schemes and subject to the availability of funds," the SRC letter said.

The car loan is to be repaid within the contract period of the CAS.

There is also a medical benefit that includes an annual medical cover extended to a spouse and up to four children under the age of 25 who are fully dependent on the CAS.

The medical benefit includes Sh10 million for in-patient, Sh300,000 for out-patient, Sh150,000 for maternity, Sh75,000 each for dental and optical.

A CAS is also entitled to a DSA for local and overseas travel at SRC rates, a monthly airtime allowance of Sh20,000, security at his place of residence and bodyguards provided by the police, and an annual leave allowance of Sh50,000 per annum, which "shall not be converted into cash in lieu of leave". 

A CAS is also entitled to a retirement benefit that includes a service gratuity calculated at the rate of 31 percent of the annual pensionable salary for the term of office served.

"Where an employer establishes a pension scheme for the CAS appointed for a fixed term, the SRC shall review and advise on the rate of employer contributions to the scheme and any other financial retirement benefits," the SRC letter said.

Like MPs and other civil servants, a CA cannot receive both pension and gratuity from the same public body for a similar period.

The group life insurance must provide cover equivalent to three times the annual pensionable emoluments and the group accident insurance must provide cover equivalent to three times the annual pensionable emoluments.