Thursday, February 27, 2014

Huge wage bill puts free learning at risk

A Standard Two class in session at Ngumo Primary School in Kathimani, Machakos County. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | FILE

A Standard Two class in session at Ngumo Primary School in Kathimani, Machakos County. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By PATRICK NZIOKA
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The free primary education is at risk of being discontinued due to the high public wage bill.

Also at risk is affordable housing and other rights unless the wage bill is reduced, according to a draft report by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. (READ: Salaries team defends Sh187m plan)

RIGHTS IN CONSTITUTION

The Situation Analysis Paper on the Public Wage Bill report, says the government will also find it difficult to sustain social protection in the country.

These are the rights and freedoms stipulated in Article 43 of the Constitution, which it says belong to every individual. Further, the huge wage bill will constrain the government’s ability to employ more teachers to support quality learning in public schools, police officers to improve security and nurses to address the health needs of the country.

This is despite the reality that the three sectors are experiencing serious manpower shortages.

“The huge wage bill has put pressure on domestic resources for supporting development and therefore jeopardising the realisation of Vision 2030. It has forced the government to increase the levels of domestic and international borrowing to sustain the targeted development of economic programmes such as roads, airports, railway lines, water and power,” says the report, which will be released soon.

While the public wage bill should not be more than seven per cent of GDP, it has been above 11 per cent for the last five years, rising to 12 per cent in the 2012/2013 financial year.

JOBS CREATED

A rise in the number of jobs created in the last five years has pushed the wage bill to about Sh400 billion in the 2012/2013 financial year, from Sh240 billion in the 2008/2009 financial year.

The report says the level of public debt at 50 per cent of GDP is worrying as it has made the country less competitive in attracting new investments.

Domestic borrowing has affected the money markets by pushing the country from a low interest regime to a high interest one charged by banks and other financial institutions.

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