There should be some jubilation in the civil service following the salary increment announced by the government recently. However, it is a miniscule effort that will make little difference in the lives of the government employees. The increases of between Sh1,400 and Sh4,300 per month are marginal, indeed. Considering the generally high cost of living, the civil servants will not feel any tangible difference in their lives.
However, the recipients must be aware that these are difficult times and, even in the private sector, which generally pays higher salaries, many redundancies have been declared in recent months.
For the government, it has been a tough struggle to deal with the huge wage bill from what has generally been acknowledged to be a bloated workforce. The government’s dream is to have a lean and efficient civil service that can be well-remunerated.
This is not going to be easy to achieve and the situation has been compounded by the wild recruitment by the counties.
These devolved units now account for the bulk of the more than 200,000 civil servants. It is a big headache for the government, which needs to cut the flab without undermining performance in the civil service.
As the civil servants enjoy their slightly higher salaries from this month, they will, perhaps, be encouraged by the fact that this is the second increment in a year and more could be on the way.
However, quite disappointing is the huge disparity in salaries between the majority low-cadre staff and their bosses, including the Cabinet and principal secretaries.
Many of these top officers have been recruited from the private sector, coming in with super salaries.
For the civil service to attract the very best and enhance efficiency in the delivery of public services, it must match the offers they would get elsewhere.