Serem at pains to justify budget

Wednesday June 5 2013

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairman Sarah Serem (centre) flanked by commission officials moments before addressing a news conference in Nairobi May 29, 2013. Photo/ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairman Sarah Serem (centre) flanked by commission officials moments before addressing a news conference in Nairobi May 29, 2013. Photo/ALPHONCE SHIUNDU  

By CAROLINE WAFULA [email protected]

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission was on Wednesday hard pressed to justify its plea for an additional Sh386 million in the 2013/2014 financial year.

MPs took the commissioners to task over their budget estimates for sitting allowances, foreign and domestic travel expenses among other items.

SRC chairperson Sarah Serem and secretary Grace Otieno said the commission was underfunded, citing an ongoing job evaluation and surveys on productivity in the public service as some of the crucial areas of its mandate that were bound to be crippled.

“Our core mandate is based on job evaluation and denying us this money will ground us,” Ms Otieno said at the Tuesday evening session with the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade.

“We are in a Sh386 million deficit and we are really pleading if this could be considered. Left where we are now, it means we won’t be able to carry out our mandate. We would be doing a disservice to public officers and Kenyans as a whole and so we appeal that you see what to do about this,” she argued.

Ms Serem clarified that commissioners get a Sh40,000 allowance for every sitting. They are 14 commissioners and they can sit up to a maximum of eight times in a month.

“The commissioners work part time. We don’t draw a salary on full time basis,” she said. “It is only the secretariat staff who are within the grading system of other officers and that is why they are paid salaries,” she told the MPs.

In total, the commission is seeking an allocation of Sh762.2 million from the Treasury.

Among others, it is asking for Sh250 million to carry out a countrywide job evaluation exercise that will help it propose appropriate remuneration for the various positions in the public service.

Committee chairman Benjamin Langat demanded specific details of what the commission plans to do in the next financial year.

“Before you say you are suffering from a budget deficit, can you tell us clearly what your goals are,” he said.

Mavoko MP Patrick Makau, mockingly, said the committee members could feel the commission’s distress since it was similar to what they experienced upon learning that the SRC had slashed their salaries.