Power to the People: Hold Your Parliamentarians Accountable – #InTheirWords

Posted by on 3rd June 2014

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Fifty-one years ago, on 1st June Kenya attained “Self-Government / Self-Independence,” but do Kenyans individually own and occupy that political space beyond Election Days?

Article 1 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 re-emphasises the same idea as it states, “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution.” Kenyans exercise this power indirectly through the democratically elected representatives including their Parliamentarians (MPs, Women Representatives & Senators).

Politicians are known to easily sway crowds through by their words in the public sphere. But do you know what contributions your Parliamentarians have made to plenary discussions in the National Assembly or the Senate since you elected them?

Www.mzalendo.com has now made each Parliamentarian’s Hansard contribution record easily accessible at a glance on their profile.

To access an MP’s or Senator’s Hansard record, click on the appearances tab of their profile, the most recent records will show, with a ‘view all’ option below it. Click on the ‘view all’ option to scrutinise each entry on your Parliamentarian’s record e.g.  http://info.mzalendo.com/hansard/person/aden-duale/appearances/

This feature allows you a greater possibility to explore your MP, Women Representative and Senators record on issues of interest to you.

Over the next two weeks, starting from this Madaraka weekend Mzalendo is running a campaign titled, ‘In Their Words’

We invite you to explore your Parliamentarians records on our site and send us:

i) A list of their most hilarious statements;

ii) Their most valuable/worthwhile contributions; and

iii) A list of issues they have discussed and what you wish they would discuss.
Our twitter handle is @mzalendowatch and the hashtag for this initiative is #InTheirWords

You can also post on our FB Fanpage: www.facebook.com/mzalendowatch

Mzalendo will compile the most hilarious and valuable contributions and highlight them on our homepage and Facebook Fanpage. Parliamentarians are paid from your tax shillings so hold them accountable by their own words.


Over to you!!

Operation Usalama Watch Needs a Rethink

Posted by on 28th May 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

In early April the government began a nation wide crackdown dubbed ‘Operation Usalama Watch’.  The intention of the operation, arrest and prosecute people suspected of engaging in terrorist activities and eliminate terrorism. However almost two months in one wonders if the operation is achieving this.

Since the start of the operation we have seen the arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation of thousands of people, mostly of Somali descent. According newspaper reports, since the 2nd of April the numbers of people arrested and detained could be upwards of 4,000 a number confirmed by the CS for Interior. These numbers could be higher considering in its first day the operation saw the arrest and detention of 600+ Eastleigh residents, and the operation has since been extended to include South C, Lang’ata, Kawangware and Kasarani. Currently several hundreds of people are being detained at Kasarani Stadium.

According to the Administration Police spokesperson, “the process is all in order, there is nothing wrong happening here. We just needed space and we have used this one…and we would like to ask human rights organisations to stay away until we complete the process.” Human rights reports on the crackdown paint a different picture, (see reports here and here).

If there is nothing wrong with the process and everything is order as stated by the Police spokesperson then there would be no need to ask human rights organisations to stay away.

While it is recognised that the balance between human rights and national security is a challenge world over and that Kenya is no exception. The response to this complex issue requires an equally sophisticated response.

In the way it is being carried out, Operation Usalama Watch seems to have little effect on terrorism, radicalisation of the youth, and religious extremism.

What is clear however is that government should have by now developed a more coherent approach to national security and terrorism as whole and to Operation Usalama Watch in particular i.e. more targeted intelligence, sealing of corruption loopholes, registration of genuine refugees, development of humane conditions and registration for asylum seekers? As opposed to the current approach, which seems both haphazard and desperate, and will undoubtedly adversely, affect innocent persons.

How has the ongoing security operation affected your life?

The Lands Ministry and the National Land Commission

Posted by on 26th May 2014

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Land has always an emotive issue in Kenya. The new constitution with its provisions on land and the pursuant legislation were all intended to improve country’s contentious land situation. However the recent goings on between the National Land Commission and the Lands Ministry calls into question whether Kenya’s land issue will ever be resolved.

Confidence in the ability of the bodies to resolve the country’s land issues is not helped by the sudden discovery of millions of ‘missing’ files from the lands registry. The first story about the files appeared in the Standard newspaper on 12th of May claiming that 10,000 ‘missing’ files had been discovered, during an audit of the central registry. More recently the Nation newspapers reported that more than a million ‘missing’ or ‘misplaced’ files had been recovered, and according to the Cabinet Secretary for Lands, Charity Ngilu, up to 500,000 files could still be missing.

The fact that so many land files are ‘missing’ or ‘misplaced’ is even more worrying when juxtaposed against the on-going turf wars between the Land Commission and the Lands Ministry. However the ongoing supremacy battles between the two land organs should not be surprising given their almost similar mandates.

Under the Constitution the National Land Commission is charged with managing public land on behalf of the national and county governments; recommending national land policy to the national government; advising the national government on a comprehensive programme for the registration of titles in land throughout the country; conducting research related to land and the use of natural resources, and making recommendations to appropriate authorities; assessing tax on land and premiums on immovable property in any area designated by law; as well as to monitor and have oversight responsibilities over land use planning throughout the country etc

According to the Lands Ministry’s website, its role is providing policy direction, setting national standards and coordination of all matters concerning lands, housing and urban development. The Ministry is responsible for putting in place policies and initiating laws that ensure sustainable land management and that promote sustainable housing for all and foster orderly urban development in the country.

Though the role of the Lands Ministry seems not be expansive as the that of the National Land Commission, one has to admit that the roles of the two organs seem quite similar, so its almost no wonder that the two have been fighting over who does what. The situation is worsened by the fact that the laws that were intended to clarify the land situation including the roles of the different organs governing land were among the laws rushed through Parliament in 2012/2013 to meet the constitutional deadline on lands.

The situation is unlikely to be resolved soon as the Land Commission recently got its budget cut by more than half from (Kshs 1.9 billion to Kshs. 652 million) while the Lands Ministry had its budget increased from Kshs 15.5 billion to Kshs 21.7 billion. The allocation appears to favour the Ministry over the Commission. One hopes with a bigger budget the Ministry will hasten the digitization of the land registry and improve service delivery. It is hoped that the Supreme Court to which the matter has been referred will resolve the issue once and for all.

Have you received better service at the Lands Ministry after it resumed duty following the recent find of ‘missing’ and ‘misplaced’ files?

On the Anglo-Leasing Payment

Posted by on 22nd May 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Anglo Leasing seems to be one of Kenya’s most convoluted and drawn out scandals to date. The scandal has been going on for over ten years, has spanned three Presidential administrations, and most recently has cost Kenyan taxpayers 1.4 billion shillings (this figure could be much higher if one considers payments which may have made in the past).

This most recent payment is a result of an order entered against the Kenyan government made in a London Court in December 2013. A case at which it turns out that the Kenya government case was inadequately defended. The order has resulting in buck passing between the current and former AG calling in to question their performance in the of role government principal legal advisor.

Since the order was entered, there has been varied response from different factions of the government as to whether Kenya should or should not the pay the court ordered Sh1.4 billion. The issue of whether the payment should be made is even more controversial because the Anglo Leasing companies seem not to exist, the procurement process was riddled with irregularities and allegations of corruption and bribery, and the Kenyan public is not completely abreast of what goods and services where procured and whether these have been delivered.

Prior to the payment the Deputy President fell on the side of not paying stating, “We have not paid any single cent and we are not intending to part with any single coin in payment for dubious projects whose origin we don’t know about. We know there is a court ruling that the government pays Sh1.4 billion but we have said Parliament will have the final say on the matter.”

Shortly after this statement was made there was a meeting between the Cabinet and the Budget and Finance Committees of the National Assembly, after which the two committees recommended the payment of the said contracts. A motion to this effect was later to be presented before the National Assembly but was subsequently withdrawn by the Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, Mutava Musyimi, following opposition to the from both Jubilee and Cord MPs. The withdrawal effectively halted parliamentary debate on whether or not the country should pay.

In an oddly worded statement the President said that the Sh1.4 billion would have to be paid while simultaneously adding that he stood by the 2006 statement he made as the chair of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that the amounts should not be paid.

The Government’s decision to settle the payment is premised on: “protecting Kenya’s economy on account of rising interest rates occasioned by domestic borrowing due to constrained access to international borrowing, protecting Kenya’s reputation as a country that meets its contractual obligations and adheres to the rule of law, protecting Kenya’s assets abroad, and, maintaining and improving Kenya’s credit rating currently at B+.” (Read the government’s full statement on the settlementhere)

The President has also ordered the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission to launch fresh investigations into Anglo Leasing. However questions still remain as to who the money is being paid to considering the Auditor General, Parliament, and the High Court have all previously declared the Anglo Leasing companies fictitious? The Presidential directive to pay the Sh1.4 billion also raises the larger question as to the implications of the by-passing of Parliament through a Presidential directive and whether this is the beginning of such a trend, as unconstitutional as it is?

State of the Nation Address (Part 2): Let’s Take a Look at Those Statistics

Posted by on 22nd April 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenya’s First Lady’s historic London Marathon run after barely six months training is a great shot in the arm for the child and maternal health sector; unfortunately, the President’s record after a year in office is not as illustrious.

For instance, with regards to progress in the health sector the President referenced his declaration of free maternal health care in all public hospital and the positive outcomes stemming from this initiative stating, “Before we came to power, we had already pledged to bring free health care to every expectant mother in the nation…trained medical staff in our facilities now attend to 66% of our deliveries, up from 44% barely a year ago.”

That’s a 22% increase, the statistic could simply indicate that more expectant mothers attended public hospitals as a result of the declaration. The statistic says nothing about the quality of service received or whether the move has resulted in the drop in maternal and child mortality rates. It would be great to know if the declaration was accompanied by a commensurate budgetary and human resources allocation.

Initial stories on the uptake of the free maternal health care service indicate otherwise. In fact they show that public hospitals have neither the staff nor the equipment to accommodate the increased demand. A situation that is likely to worsen if medical staff in public hospitals follow through with threats to strike over working conditions and salaries.

Making reference to the Jubilee administration’s promise to resettle all IDPs by the end of 2013 the President stated: “In September 2013 the government began the implementation of the cash payment programme for all IDPs that had not been resettled so far, a total of 8298 households. A total of 777 have received cash payments of Kshs. 400,000 per household total, totalling Kshs. 3.3 billion”

It is unclear whether this statement refers only to the 500,000 displaced from the 2007/2008 post-election violence or all IDPs i.e. the Mau Forest Evictees, PEV IDPs, Coast and Nyanza IDPs, squatters etc. If the statement refers to the latter then the statement may not be at all accurate, as several IDPs still remain in camps, informal settlements and in other areas where they stay displaced from their homes. The statement also obscures the fact that several PEV IDPs claimed they are yet to receive the funds as stated.

With regards to affirmative action the President referenced the setting aside of 30% of government tenders for youth, women and persons with disabilities. Again the statistics given say little about whether this is actually being implemented or if there has been any uptake of the government tenders by the said groups.

The President further stated a third of that the membership of the, “cabinet, senate and county assemblies are now women.” Although, the statistic on the women in the senate is true; it obscures the fact, none of the women in the Senate were elected and cannot cast votes when it on matters to do with counties. There is no woman governor in any of the 47 counties, and there are only 9 women’s deputy governors. In addition, there are counties in which there isn’t a single woman elected as a Member of the County Assembly.

While the President gave no specific statistics on the cost of living, he did make some statements which bare analysis. For instance he stated, “Recognising the need to contain the cost of living, and to improve the competitiveness of our economy, my government instituted measures and initiatives that will doubtlessly lead to a significant reduction of the cost of goods and services…We already have some results to show the price of basic commodities such as fuel, sugar and cooking fats were actually lower in February this year than they were in February 2013.” This whole statement begs a fact check, is the price of basic commodities (maize meal, sugar, wheat flour, oil, milk, and bread) lower now than it was in February 2013? What’s your take?

On Security, Corruption and Terror Attacks

Posted by on 4th April 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Shortly after the Westgate Attack, making the link between corruption and the increase in terrorism in the Guardian article ‘Kenya: behind the terror is rampant corruption,’ Giles Foden wrote:

 “In Kenya crime and terrorism are deeply linked, not least by the failure of successive Kenyan governments to control either….These attacks are part of a spectrum of banditry, with corruption at one end, terrorism at the other, and regular robbery in the middle. Some Kenyans will feel that the conditions in which the attacks have happened have arisen because of economic growth in a vacuum of governance. Money that should have been spent on security and other aspects of national infrastructure has been disappearing for generations.”

At the time, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed responded with an article of her own denying the link between corruption and the Westgate terror attack titled, ‘Kenya terror attack: corruption wasn’t to blame.’ With the recent terror attacks in Eastleigh the link between corruption and the country’s increased vulnerability to terrorism is one that needs to not only acknowledged but addressed as well.

In the very recent past the President in his State of the Nation address and in subsequent statements has echoed sentiments that appeared in the first Guardian article.

In his State of the Nation address the President while promising that his administration would make added investments in the security sector, the President urged Kenyans to remember that some of the difficulties experienced with were due to three decades of under investment. In another statement the President, highlighted corruption as a major barrier to the implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Law passed in 2012.

The link between corruption and the country’s susceptibility to is also recognised in the Parliamentary Report on the Inquiry into the Westgate and other attacks in Mandera in North Eastern and Kilifi in the Coastal Region. The report mentions systemic corruption and the link to terror attack stating:

“Corruption has greatly led to the vulnerability of the country in many cases including where immigration officials are compromised thus permitting ‘aliens’ who could be terrorists to enter the country and acquire identification. This enables terrorists ease of movement and are therefore able to plan and execute attacks without the fear of discovery. Further compromising of security officials enables ‘suspected individuals’ to fail to pursue suspected terrorists and enable them to secure early release when caught or reported in suspicious criminal activities.”

Of the link between Kenyan troops in Somalia and the increase in terror attacks in the country the report states, “It should also be interrogated why other countries such as Ethiopia and Burundi who had earlier sent troops to Somalia have not been attacked by the al-shaabab. Tanzania has also not suffered any terrorist attacks after the 1998 bombings. Is it because our security forces are weak, in-disciplined and easily corruptible?”

The report makes further note of nationwide systemic failure on the part of the Immigration Services Department, Department of Refugee Affairs; and Registration of Persons Department, also “rampant corruption by security officers and other government agents,” and  further that, “police officers are corrupt and lax too. They work in cahoots with alShabaab and are paid to pass information to the latter.”

Last week National Assembly rejected the Joint Committees report and the recommendations made therein. However questions and issues in the report raised with regards to the link between corruption and terrorism still remain.

In the face of security challenges reported over the past couple of weeks, what measures would you like the government to undertake to check corruption which opens doors to security lapses?

On the President’s State of the Nation Address (Part 1)

Posted by on 1st April 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

Last week the President gave his second State of the Nation speech. A speech he is constitutionally required to give every year for the term of his Presidency. However if one was expecting this year’s speech to be a marker of the administration’s progress in achieving the goals and promises made in both its manifesto and during last year’s speech they were sorely disappointed.  The speech barely made reference to the administrations manifesto, or to promises made by the President in his last speech to the Nation. The President did touch on important issues i.e. devolution, corruption, security, the wage bill, but it was hard to pin point concrete points of action with regards to resolving the issues.

On devolution the President stated:

“My government has kept faith with our people’s momentous choice by establishing a fully-fledged two-tier state: 47 counties that complement the national administration. All are now operational, disproving the doubts of the faint-hearted.”

While the statement is true as regards the establishment of a two tier state, questions remain about how operational the counties are? While a two tier government has been established, several problems still exist, with the two tiers jostling for supremacy and funds including calls by some MPs to scrap the two tier systems.

With regards to corruption the President stated:

 “It remains a hard truth that some of our public services are rife with waste and corruption. That waste threatens the productivity we have so painfully begun to build. I have appointed a Cabinet Committee to return us to prudence and probity in public service. The team has already issued a preliminary report, and soon I will give detailed attention to the proposed measures. I also wish to highlight the over-arching theme that government spending must be brought under control.”

Given rampant corruption particularly involving government tenders in which several Ministries have been implicated i.e. the trillion shilling Standard Gauge Railway project, the procurement of laptops scandal, a saga for which the National Assembly has threatened to censure the Cabinet Secretary it is surprising that corruption was only mentioned twice in the President’s speech.

And while it was great that the President recognised corruption is rife in public services, he failed to mention that this corruption extends to the top tiers of government. With regards to the Cabinet Committee, it is difficult to see how there is not a conflict of interest between having a Cabinet Committee comprised of members whose Ministries may be implicated in corruption scandals. The President made no mention of empowering the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), nor was there mention of punitive measures to be taken against those implicated in corruption scandals. Nor did he state how the Cabinet Committee would interact with the EACC, the body actually mandated to investigate corruption.

The President also mentioned the wage bill, though it seemed mostly in passing stating:

“That effort in rationalisation of recurrent expenditure requires attention to our wage bill. It is my wish to encourage public discourse on this matter. Equally importantly, some of our leaders have shown themselves willing to lead by example. My Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have accepted a 10% pay cut. The Deputy President joined me in taking a 20% pay cut.”

It is possible that the President said very little about the wage bill because he had mentioned the issue on the heels of the Cabinet retreat. However in a discussion on the wage bill it is difficult to see how the President remained silent on the constitutional body mandated to review State Officers salaries and its role in regulating salaries of state officers. It is also awkward that the President would highlight leaders showing themselves willing to lead on the issue of lowering the wage by example when the very same leaders have continually thwarted Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s efforts to regulate the salaries.

Security took up a large portion of the State of the Nation speech. The President mentioned security 13 times during his speech, no surprise given the recent terrorist attack on Westgate, the insecurity in North Eastern Kenya, the insecurity in Western Kenya, the on-going internal conflict in the countries Coastal region, the list is seemingly endless and that before mention of the crime rates, however security goals seemed mostly aspirational than anything else. In his speech the President mentioned that in 2013 violent crime fell by 8% it would be interesting to know from where this statistic comes, is it for the whole country or for a certain part of the country.

What are your thoughts on the President’s State of Nation Speech?

Of Inflated Tenders and the Billions of Shillings of Cost to Kenyans

Posted by on 20th March 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

It is laudable that the government is finally taking steps to reduce the wage bill and while the outcome of the efforts remains to be seen, it would be great if concrete steps were alsotaken towards correcting government inefficiencies particularly when it comes to the tendering process.

Recently there have been a slew of reports on the inefficienciesin the tendering process and the resultant losses, for instance:

The Public Procurement Administration Review Board found that the laptop tender price had been inflated by 1.4 billion shillings:

“Initially Olive had quoted US $ 268,899,669 or Sh24,286,711,335/50, but when the tender was awarded, Education Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, announced a sum of US $ 284,899,669”

According to reports the laptop tender was a five stage process(1) Technical Evaluation (2) Financial Evaluation, (3) Best & Final Offer Negotiation, (4) Best & Final Offer Financial Opening and (5) Due Diligence stages. It is alarming that in none of these stages was the error caught. It leads to the question of whether the any of the bodies that were involved in the process are fit forthe purpose.

Then there’s the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Kenya’s biggest infrastructural project today and one in which Kenyan tax payers could lose billions if the inefficiencies continue:

“The total cost rose from the initial 220,921,502.08 quoted by the China and Bridge Corporation in its acceptance of the tender award letter dated July 2012 to the current 1.3 trillion” the Standard reported.

The paper further reported that Public Procurement Oversight Authority has been unsuccessful in its attempts to seek answersabout the discrepancies from the Ministry of Transport. This is aside from the fact that in the course of its investigations the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee found thatthere are two companies registered under the name China Road and Bridge Corporation the Chinese one and Kenyan one.

There’s also the recently reported loss of the 4billion shillings from National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) fund to which Kenyans directly contribute a portion of their income.

According to the Auditor General NHIF incurred cost of the 3.9 billion shillings that cannot be justified after the tender for a multi storey parking lot was inflated from 9 million to 3.9 billion. Meanwhile NSSF made an investment in land which turns out is reserved land (something which one thinks should have been uncovered by a search at the lands office). Read the full story here.

The government response to the inefficacies is disappointing to say the least. Despite glaring discrepancies in the SGR tender process the President has declared that the SGR tender was above board and the project must go on. The Parliamentary Committee has said that it will censure Education CS Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, in response the Education CS has dismissed calls for him to resign over the scandal.

Unless these inefficiencies are corrected taxpayers will continue to lose billions.


On the Salary Cuts for the President, Deputy President and Others

Posted by on 13th March 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

The Cabinet is back from its one week retreat, and if the President’s speech is any indication dealing with the country’s public wage bill is high on the government’s agenda.

Unless you live under a rock it’s likely that you know or have heard, that two of the highest paid public sector workers (the President and the Deputy President) will be taking a 20% wage cut, the Cabinet will also be taking 10% pay cut all effective immediately.

It seems that since the President’s speech, the offers to take salary cuts are coming in droves: Senator Kithure Kindiki has stated that he is ready to take a 30% salary cut, and proposed that the commissioners and their deputies take similar cuts. Majority Leader, Aden Duale, has stated that he is willing to take a 15% pay cut should the National Assembly  fail to pass bill to reduce the salaries of parliamentarians, he has also suggested  reducing the number the number of constitutional commissions as well as salary cuts for those who sit on those commissions.

The Majority Leader has also stated the National Assembly would be willing to meet with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to discuss the issue of the public sector wage bill.

However all this talk of salary cuts seems populist and amnesiac at best, and at worst an ineffective way of the dealing with the public sector wage bill.

Populist because State Officers salaries and particularly MPs salaries have been sticking point for most of the Kenyan public for several administrations, and a 20% pay cut in the salaries of the highest earning state officers seems a bit like a public relations stunt as it is unlikely to make a significant dent in the public sector wage bill. Let’s assume that the President earns a salary of 2 million shillings per month a 20% pay cut is only 400,000 shillings hardly likely to make a dent in a wage bill that costs the country and tax payers billions of shillings annually.

Amnesiac because at the beginning of this administration the Salaries and Remuneration Commission made and gazetted salary cuts for state officers. State Officers then fought the salary cut tooth and nail and in the end salaries for all State Officers including those at county level was well above the SRC recommendations. Also it seems this move seems to forget that there is a Commission mandated to determine and review the salaries of all State Officers and the National Assembly has been trying to disband this body for its stance on salaries.

The salary cut declarations may be an ineffective way of dealing with the public wage bill. For one these declarations fail to address the issue of untaxed allowances which form a large part of the public wage bill. The salary cut declarations are neither legislated nor institutionalised so what’s to say they will be followed? Further the declarations do little to empower the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the body constitutionally mandated to review determine salaries of State officers, and makes it seem like state officers are doing Kenyans a favour by agreeing to salary cuts, when that is clearly not the case.

The National Assembly Queries the Rising Public Wage Bill Finally

Posted by on 11th March 2014

Categories: Uncategorized

According to a report in the Business Daily, “Parliament has questioned a Sh32.7 billion increase in public wages and benefits despite devolution of several functions and shifting of personnel to counties. The Budget and Appropriation Committee has asked the Treasury to explain its projection that the wage bill will rise from Sh263 billion to Sh295.7 billion in the financial year starting July 2013, a 12.4 per cent rise.”

While it is a welcome move that the National Assembly is finally questioning the public wage bill, it seems that National Assembly is a bit late to the gate.

It’s a well known fact that between the last administration and this one there has been a speedy growth of the public wage. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has attributed the rise of the wage bill to not only the added layers of the government introduced by the devolved system, but also to the increase in a salaries, as well the substantial allowances paid out by government.

According to the Commission, “Kenya’s total wage bill in the public sector has continued to increase in nominal terms…due to an increase in the number of employees as well as an increase in the average wage. A significant amount of employee compensation is in allowances such as: personal allowance, hardship allowance, entertainment allowance and risks allowances. The Kenyan average annual growth rate in wage bill over the last three years is about 13% (for 2012/13 alone, the increase was by 30%), well above the nominal GDP growth of about 4% and population growth rate of about 3%.”

The National Treasury reports the country’s wage bill as being 12% of GDP, the ratio of recurrent expenditure to the total budget is 69%. The public sector wage bill, as at 30th June, 2013, was about 12%, which is higher than the internationally desirable level of not more than 7% and government target of not more than 8%. The Central Government wage bill as a share of GDP is estimated to be 7.8% compared to 6.5% for Africa which is also the government target while the Central Government wage bill took about 35% of Government total revenue and with a debt service of about 17.2% leaving less than 48% of the total revenue for other operations.

Looking at these figures I am sure Kenyans wonder whether the millions of funded posts in the public sector and the rise in their wages over the past few years is being matched by productivity increases.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has been warning the government about the country’s unsustainable wage bill ever since it was first established.  Lowering the country’s wage bill was also one of the Jubilee coalition’s flagship campaign promises, as well as a focus of the President’s national address in 2013. So it would be great to see more concrete steps towards this.

The fact is that if the public wage continues to rise it will not only be unsustainable but it will definitely begin to crowd out other important forms of government expenditure, infrastructural development and essential services i.e. education, health care.