As President Uhuru Kenyatta this week announced that he and his deputy William Ruto would from next month each take an 80 percent pay cut towards coronavirus, questions are swirling around cash raised in a previous fundraising campaign.
In his Wednesday address, Kenyatta said that Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries would also absorb pay cuts of 30 percent and 20 percent respectively. The aim is to free up more funds to be channeled towards fighting covid-19. Some 31 cases have been confirmed in Kenya. County Governors and their deputies have equally committed to cede part of their takehome pay to the corona fund, as have speakers of both Houses (Parliament and Senate).
“In sharing the burden occasioned by the global health pandemic over the duration of the crisis and commencing immediately my administration has offered a salary reduction of the senior rank executives,” the President said in his televised address to the nation.
Amidst this latest fundraising drive, mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the cash raised in a previous similar drive led by the President. In excess of Sh70 million had been raised as of mid-2017 when the figure was last made public by the then Treasury secretary Henry Rotich, having been collected over a period of three years.
In March 2014, a year after being elected, President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto pledged to take a 20 percent pay cut in efforts to narrow the ballooning public wage bill and free up cash for development.
The head of State also directed ministers, principal secretaries and parastatal heads to take haircuts ranging from 10 to 20 percent. While the pay cut drive was voluntary, the President warned those who defied the order would be sacked. Kenya’s State officers are among best paid in Africa with appointment to public offices largely seen as a ticket to riches.
To hold the proceeds of the monthly deductions, an account dubbed Transformative Fund was opened at the Central Bank of Kenya where the forfeited funds were deposited.
The account held Sh70 million as of mid-July 2017 and Sh46.9 million a year earlier, according to the then Treasury secretary Henry Rotich – a sluggish growth. Rotich stepped aside to pave way for corruption charges and was later replaced by Ukur Yatani. Questions to Treasury secretary Yatani on the fate of the cash went unanswered.
“The contributors (mainly CSs and PSs), will meet and agree on what project to support since it’s their contribution,” Rotich was earlier quoted as saying.
The low amount signals that some top public officials may have defied the calls to trim their fat pay based on the number of expected contributors. This is despite the President’s warning that state officers who would not contribute would face the sack.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) triggered the pay cut drive after it raised the red flag over the unsustainable annual wage bill that crossed the Sh500 billion-mark ($5 billion) in 2014.