Public staff cuts must be strategic

Wednesday February 14 2018

By EDITORIAL
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The issue of freezing employment in the civil service to cut payroll costs is surfacing again as the government works on a new Budget amidst declining revenues.

Headcount is a major budget item that every establishment has to keep under tight control with the accent being rationalisation to ensure maximum productivity.

Once again, experts are asking the government to stop new recruitments, review existing positions and cut unnecessary ones.

This is the norm in the private sector. But the public service is different.

Yet with the harsh economic realities, this is unavoidable.

RECURRENT EXPENDITURE
Statistics from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) indicate that the government spends nearly half of the tax collections on paying salaries, at the expense of service delivery and capital development.

That is not sustainable. Employment in public service has traditionally been supply rather than demand-driven and the outcome is a bloated workforce.

There are large number of employees at the junior levels, most of them redundant, while highly skilled positions are vacant or poorly staffed.

The mismatch has serious implications on service delivery.

In recent times, the Constitution has provided for numerous institutions and structures, including counties and agencies, all with wieldy staff establishments.

CORRUPTION

There several independent constitutional agencies, which though vital, are proving too costly.

Counties are even worse, given their excessive recruitments driven by politics rather economics of the operations.

The government should seriously consider reducing its workforce.

But that has to be done strategically. More critically, it must move beyond that and deal with the rampant wastage and corruption; the latter has become cancerous.

It must plan properly for projects and stop the trend where millions are sank in mega projects that are never get completed.

Equally, it must cut superfluous expenditures on travel and office supplies.

Hard decisions must be made to eliminate budget deficits, which must extend above staff cuts to include instilling financial discipline, eliminating corruption and sealing loopholes for leakages.