What you need to know:
- President Ruto bars CSs from foreign travel, big-money expenditures and making appointments to plum state jobs.
- The order on public service jobs and payments signals Dr Ruto is keen to further clip the limited powers of CSs and PSs during the ongoing transition period.
- The decree has frozen appointments by CSs to boards of state corporations or state agencies, redeployments or any new appointments in any ranks within ministries and state departments.
President William Ruto has barred Cabinet Secretaries (CSs) from foreign travel, big-money expenditures and making appointments to plum state jobs, hugely cutting their powers as they ride out their last days in office.
The order on public service jobs and payments signals Dr Ruto is keen to further clip the limited powers of CSs and Principal Secretaries (PSs) during the ongoing transition period, many of whom he clashed with ahead of the polls, accusing them of deploying state machinery to derail his presidential bid.
President Ruto is keen to ensure the outgoing officials do not make appointments in public service or new policy pronouncements as he prepares to appoint his new team to help him implement his manifesto.
The decree has frozen appointments by CSs to boards of state corporations or state agencies, redeployments or any new appointments in any ranks within ministries and state departments.
Further, ministries, state departments and state agencies are restricted from effecting payments of more than Sh50 million without the approval of the National Treasury, a directive intended to stop a last-minute spending spree by outgoing officials.
“We wish to underscore that ministerial actions during the transition are limited to general administration and stewardship over the ministerial portfolio,” reads a circular by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua addressed to CSs, PSs and the Attorney-General.
The circular dated September 19 is copied to Mr Davis Chirchir, who is the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President (OP) and Dr Kennedy Kihara, the Principal Administrative Secretary, OP.
President Ruto, who is in the US attending the United Nations General Assembly, is expected to name his Cabinet upon his return.
The Constitution caps the number of CSs at a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 22.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has kick-started the recruitment of new PSs, who are the accounting officers in their ministries and departments.
The PSC on Tuesday extended the deadline for the application of 44 PS slots to September 27.
Mr Kinyua, who is chairing the committee that is overseeing the transition to Dr Ruto’s administration, has also restricted CSs from appointing any officials to the boards of state corporations and agencies.
CSs had been using their last days in office before the swearing-in of President Ruto last Tuesday to fill vacant plum positions on boards of government agencies.
In the weeks before the August 9 polls and after the declaration of Dr Ruto as the winner of the presidential election, President Uhuru Kenyatta and CSs appointed nearly 200 directors to boards of state agencies with most of the tenures running for three years.
Just a day to the polls, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) CS Joes Mucheru appointed Mr Stanley Kamanguya as the new CEO of the ICT Authority to replace Dr Paul Ronoh, who had been serving in an acting capacity since last year.
The move was, however, protested by allies of Dr Ruto, who termed the appointment “highly irregular” and that it “must be revisited”.
Dr Ruto is aware he could be faced with fewer slots to dish out to loyalists in state corporations amid a push by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to merge some and shut down to save public funds.
The process has already led to the merger of the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), Industrial Development Bank (IDB) Capital, and Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC) into the Sh100 billion Kenya Development Corporation (KDC).
The ban on foreign travel comes on the back of reports that government officials spent heavily on trips in former President Kenyatta’s last fiscal year in office, squeezing budgets for other vote heads.
Officials spent Sh20.17 billion on trips in the financial year to June, taking advantage of the easing of local and international travel restrictions. This was a 41.7 per cent increase from the Sh14.23 billion that they spent in the financial year 2020/21.
Data from the Controller of Budget shows that the expenditure includes Sh14.13 billion spent on local travel and Sh6.04 billion used on foreign trips.
Mr Kinyua has also barred them from issuing new policy pronouncements unless sanctioned by Dr Ruto as the Head of State moves with speed to craft his government’s policies.
President Ruto has already hit the ground running by crafting his own policies, some of which are reversals of those of his predecessor, Mr Kenyatta.
The Head of State also swiftly announced an end to the fuel subsidy that, he said, has gobbled up billions of shillings.
Mr Kenyatta had been relying on managing surging fuel prices through the taxpayer-funded subsidy programme.