Commissioner Margaret Sawe was interviewed Live on 19 May 2023, during the morning show on Kitwek 97.9 FM, a radio station under the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Speaking in Kalenjin, Commissioner Sawe articulated the mandate of SRC, other SRC thematic areas and responded to calls from listeners.
An excerpt of her interview has been highlighted below:
Question: What is the role of SRC?
Response: Article 230 of the constitution clarifies SRC’s mandate; which is, to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers, and advice the national and country governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers.
Question: What is the mandate of SRC vis-à-vis that of trade unions?
Response: We do not interfere with the role of trade unions in their negotiations. SRC is keen that every employee earns a fair pay within certain limits. Principles such as affordability, fiscal sustainability and fairness, are considered.
Question: The current economic times are tough. What do you look at in order to carry out your mandate?
Response: We consider factors such as inflation, affordability and fiscal sustainability. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, SRC froze the pay in the public service for two years because realising revenue during that period was difficult.
Question: How much is allocated to salaries in the public service?
Response: It is estimated at approximately Ksh one trillion annually, while at the same time, Kenya also needs resources for development. It certainly is a tough balancing act.
Question: What causes salaries to increase?
Response: This is caused by an increase in individual workload and roles. In addition, the wage bill increases due to the continued increase in the number of employees in institutions. If we are able to manage productivity, we will be able to expand the economic cake to be shared by many more, and hence, sustain the wage bill.
Question: Is it possible to sustain the wage bill?
Response: Yes. SRC looks at the overall financial health of an institution. An institution may seek a salary increase, yet it makes losses. We also carry out job evaluation and determine if an institution will get an increase, and if it can afford. Affordability is determined through available funds from the National Treasury or within the same institution.
Question: Sometimes teachers and doctors engage in strikes to press for better pay or working conditions. What is the role of SRC in this regard?
Response: There are three parties that are involved. These are: the employer, employees and the Ministry of Labour. SRC becomes an interested party only in relation to advising on limits in terms of the remuneration and benefits of the negotiations, and whether it is affordable and fiscally sustainable.
Question: What gains are there from wage bill management?
Response: After salaries are disbursed, the government can use any remaining revenue for development, and also target those who are unemployed to encourage and spur the payment of taxes. There is a limit on how much is payable as salaries, and how much can be used for development.
Question: Why do salaries affect the wage bill?
Response: Salaries are paid as a percentage of revenue. Sometimes, what is collected as revenue is less, yet salaries are paid as recurrent expenditure. There are also other factors that affect revenue collection from businesses such as, Covid-19 pandemic.
Question: Besides salaries, what other incentives do employees get?
Response: Recently, SRC launched the Framework for Recognising Productivity and Performance in the Public Service. Each institution is supposed to develop a performance framework based on actual output. In this regard, the payment of bonuses will certainly motivate employees in the long run.
Question: What does SRC consider in job evaluation?
Response: SRC looks at the impact and strategic placement of the institution, the financial position in relation to service and commercial sectors, affordability, fiscal sustainability, among other factors.
Question: Do you receive appeals in job evaluation?
Response: Yes. Job evaluation is done based on the job descriptions submitted to SRC by institutions. Some job descriptions are submitted with some missing information, hence, requiring a resubmission in order to be reprocessed by SRC.
Question: MPs and MCAs want increments in salary and allowances, including the plenary sitting allowance. What is your take?
Response: When conducting job evaluation, a job description is key to the determination of the job worth. The Plenary Sitting Allowance was abolished by SRC as it amounted to double compensation. One is paid to do what one is supposed to, and this should not go against human resource practices. The sitting allowance is therefore factored in the pay.
Question: How do you manage salary issues with MCAs and MPs?
Response: SRC undertakes stakeholder and public participation in every aspect of salary determination. SRC’s role is to set and advice and this is done after engaging stakeholders in sensitisation and awareness clinics.
Question: What initiatives are being undertaken on allowances?
Response: SRC has reviewed allowances and benefits and has undertaken stakeholder and public participation. SRC will soon make a pronouncement on the streamlining of allowances in the public service.