We do not have money, President Ruto tells striking doctors

President WIlliam Ruto addressing the nation from State House, Nairobi.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has appealed to striking doctors to reconsider their stance, noting that the country is struggling with ballooning wage bills and meager resources to meet their demands for pay rise.

Speaking at Eldoret AIC Fellowship after attending church service, President Ruto admitted that he knows the situation facing doctors and intern doctors in the country but he implored them to accept the situation and live according to current means.

“I know we have a situation in Kenya facing our doctors and (medical doctor) interns but I want to implore them that we as a nation need to agree that we must live within our means, fellow countrymen and women,” he said.

Mr Ruto stated that the country is not ready to spend money that is not available indicating to doctors that their demand for salary increase would not be fulfilled soon.

He said that the available resources are only enough to pay intern doctors Sh70,000 a month as a stipend for only one year before being employed even as he assured all intern doctors that they will be absorbed.

“We are going to absorb all more than 1,500 intern doctors and pay them a stipend of Sh70,000 a month as we plan to employ them when resources are available,” said Dr Ruto who accompanied first lady Rachel Ruto, Uasin Gishu county Boss Jonathan Bii and nominated MP Joseph Wanaina.

The head of State said soon the country will hold a national conference to discuss how to manage the the ballooning wage bill.

“We can’t continue to spend the money we don’t have, in fact, two very fundamental things are going to happen shortly, we are going to have a conference on the 15 to 17th to discuss our wage bill as a nation because we are spending Sh1.1 trillion to pay salaries and wages of the 2.2 trillion we collect annually, “said Mr Ruto.

The president said the amount spent on salaries and wage bills is unrealistic hence there is a need to revise the entire chain of input and output noting that the country is spending 47 percent of annual revenue on wage bills instead of 35 percent as required by the law.

He said that the current wage bill should be reduced to 35 percent as per the law for the country to realise development.

“We are way above what is required as wage bill, we need a conversation so that those of us who earn salary must be responsible so that we can progressively reduce our wage bill so that we free more resources to create jobs for our young people to make sure that we can fund our health care education and development at large and that is the conversation that we must have,” said President Ruto.

He further revealed that the country is going to reduce the annual budget from Sh4.2 trillion down to Sh3.7 trillion in order to live within the country’s means.

Quoting a biblical verse in John 8:32, he told Kenyans that he was ready to stand for the truth to liberate the country from the hard economic situation that he inherited from his predecessor.

“We must be honest with ourselves, we must tell each other the truth, we cannot continue to borrow money to pay salaries we must live within our means and I am telling our friends the doctors that we value them and we mind them, we value the services they give to our nation but we must live within our means,” he emphasized.

Despite his sentiments and call from various leaders to end the strike, doctors have maintained that they will only resume work after all their 19 grievances are addressed amicably.

Last Friday, KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atellah accused the government of politicising matters of health.

“The government is playing politics with serious health matters affecting Kenyans by lying to the public that they, the 29 days’ strike notice that we gave to government was enough to address our grievances, this silence means that they don’t care, they are only playing politics all this propaganda that they are claiming that they have given us offer are just politics,” said

Dr Atellah said all 19 issues raised by doctors have not been addressed by the government as claimed by certain leaders.

“Out of the 19 issues that we have raised as doctors not even a single issue has been implemented and the government is not showing any interest in addressing any of the issues that we have raised instead they are violating the same CBA that we are advocating for by reducing the salary of intern doctors by 91 percent,” said Dr Atellah.