Kenyans over-represented, overburdened by bloated Ruto government

A Nation Newsplex analysis has found that the increase in the composition of the Executive will significantly weigh down the taxpayer 

Photo credit: Graphic | Sydney Kithome

Kenyans are burdened by a bloated government as the Kenya Kwanza administration continues to reward loyalists with plum State jobs.

A Nation Newsplex analysis has found that the increase in the composition of the Executive will significantly weigh down the taxpayer.

President William Ruto appointed 50 chief administrative secretaries (CAS), up from 29 in the former President Uhuru’s government.

Prof XN Iraki of the University of Nairobi’s Faculty of Business and Management Sciences argues that the high number of political appointees to the CAS position is a hindrance to the betterment of the economy.

“While the current government says there is enough work for all the members of the Executive, we can only wait and see. Truth be told, political inclusion trumps economic revival,” he said.

The CASs who were sworn in on March 23 will cost Sh468 million in salaries every year, totalling Sh2.34 billion by 2027.

This follows an advisory by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that shows a CAS’ monthly pay will rise to Sh780,000 following a job evaluation that puts the position in a higher job grade.

“SRC has determined the monetary worth of the job of CAS at grade F1 and would like to advise on the attendant remuneration and benefits structure,” said the SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich in a March 14, 2023 letter to her PSC counterpart, Mr Anthony Muchiri.

Before that PSC had classified CAS under Job Group V, making them entitled to a monthly salary of Sh765,188.

The CASs are also entitled to a Sh35 million mortgage and Sh10 million car grant both of which will cost the taxpayer Sh2.25 billion in one-off payments over five years.

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

For principal secretaries, they are entitled to a monthly salary of Sh765,188 which was similar to that of CASs before the SRC review. They also draw more money in housing, travel and entertainment allowances, medical cover and other perks.

Cabinet secretaries earn even more as they are entitled to Sh924, 000 in monthly salaries, Sh40 million in mortgage, Sh10 million in car loan and Sh17.18 million in gratuity once they are out of office.

In all, over the course of five years, taxpayers will pay Sh13.214 billion which includes Sh5.856 billion for salaries, Sh4.415 billion in mortgages, Sh1.128 billion in car loans and Sh1.815 billion in gratuity for the CSs, PSs, and CASs.

Entitled to vehicles

They are also entitled to vehicles, drivers, an unspecified number of security personnel to be moving around with them and guarding their homes, personal assistants and secretaries.

Similar high costs are also witnessed when it comes to the wage bill of legislators.

Currently, Kenya has 418 members of Parliament including ex-officio and nominated members. At the National Assembly, there are a total of 350 members while the Senate has 68 members.

President Ruto with CASs at State House

President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Minister Musalia Mudavadi take a group photo with the newly sworn-in Chief Administrative Secretaries at State House, Nairobi on March 23, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

Because there are two levels of government, there are even more legislators at the county level with the number of elected Members of County Assembly (MCA) being 1,450.

This brings the total number of legislators to more than 2,000 once nominated MCAs are added to the tally.

This, therefore, means that Kenya has nine legislators per one million people. Comparing Kenya with other leading African economies shows that while Kenya’s rate of representation is not uncommonly high, democracy is less costly to citizens of other countries, even those that are more heavily represented.

According to a study done by the Institute of Economic Affairs, among African countries which have more legislators per million people than Kenya does, they also have a higher GDP per capita.

Morocco and Tunisia, which both have almost twice as many legislators per million people as Kenya, and Algeria with more than 50 per cent more legislators, have GDP per capita ranging from nearly four times to more than five times that of Kenya.

Worth noting is that Kenya pays its legislators a far higher portion of GDP per capita in salary than these countries do.

Prof Winnie Mitullah, a University of Nairobi governance expert, argues that there is need to review the current composition of our Parliament and county assemblies 10 years since the new structure of government came into place.

“There is need to review and check whether everything is working like we had envisioned when creating all these new positions,” Prof Mitullah said.

She noted that all these new positions are not a benefit to Kenyans and that the taxpayers are not getting value for their money.

Prof Iraki contends that elected leaders should not feel like a burden to the electorate.

“Overall, governments, both national or local, should make a difference to our lives, not by giving us money but by making it easy to make money,” he said.

Currently, parliamentarians have a monthly salary of Sh710,000. This includes a basic salary of Sh426,000, house allowance of Sh150,000 and a salary market adjustment of Sh134,000.

Among other benefits they enjoy include committee sitting allowances of Sh7,500 (capped at a maximum of Sh120,000 monthly), a car maintenance allowance of Sh356,525 and a Sh116.63 per kilometre mileage claim (capped at a maximum of Sh353,778 monthly).

SRC also enhanced MPs’ airtime allowance from Sh10,000 to Sh15,000.

If an MP makes maximum use of all cash benefits, he or she would take home over Sh1.5 million monthly.

Forward representatives, their salaries are Sh144,375, constituting a basic salary of Sh86,625, a house allowance of Sh45,000 and a salary market adjustment of Sh12,750.

Other benefits that MCAs are entitled to include a Sh3,900 committee sitting allowance (capped at Sh62,400 monthly), mileage claims ranging between Sh30,167 and Sh147,481, a car maintenance allowance of Sh30,167 and a Sh5,000 airtime allowance.

There have been continued concerns over the increase in salaries and certain allowances of legislators, with many feeling that parliamentarians are pocketing too much but not doing as much.

Prof Iraki agrees with the sentiments, noting that the economy would be at a better place if those in Parliament were doing what they are supposed to do.

Less corruption

“Legislators’ key job is oversight and I doubt if they are doing that because if they did, the economy would be more efficient and with less corruption. The public money lost is the best evidence of their failure to do their job,” he stated.

Prof Iraki also noted that MCAs would be a great asset if they did what the Constitution envisioned they would do, which is being closer to the grassroots and focusing on economic issues.

This, he notes, would ensure that wards become centres of economic growth.

The government has, however, continuously defended the growing wage bill, saying it needs a bigger number of representatives to deliver on its mandate effectively.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, while speaking during a joint media interview with Gikuyu stations, defended the appointment of the 50 CASs.

He argued that the positions were necessary to boost the administration’s functioning.

“On CAS appointments, ministries have cross-cutting issues that need to be addressed. We bring in new energy to revitalise existing capacity and strength,” he said.

“A lot needs to be done to revive the economy and that is why the government needs a big team that will be dispersed across the world to look for the markets of our products,” he added.

But according to Prof Iraki, the ones who do the actual job are the civil servants in the lower ranks.

“The real work is done by the civil service; that’s where our efforts should be focused on,” he said.