The Return of Ghost Workers

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Weak Payroll Systems At Both County and National Government Made It Easier To Manipulate The Payroll

Ghost workers are back to the national role after the Treasury announced their return. This is less than after an audit led to the removal of more than 12,000 false names from the public sector salaries register.

Ghost workers are those who have died, retired or abandoned duty.

A preliminary audit found that some government ministries, State-owned agencies and commissions that employ many staff continue to pay officers who are no longer in service.

The removal of ghost workers from the payroll is one of the strategies, together with a freeze in new hiring and pays increases, aimed at reducing Kenya’s expanding public sector wage bill.

In 2014, a preliminary audit of the public service payroll revealed that taxpayers were losing more than Sh1.8 billion every year in salary payments to ghost workers.

This occurred after 12,500 names of government employees failed to reflect during the biometric registration, forcing the State to strike them off from the payroll at the start of November 2014.

Therefore, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) recommended an upgrade of the integrated payroll management system so as to give each public servant a unique identifier to eliminate the risk of overpayment or paying ghost workers.

Treasury is also seeking to control pay allocation to departments and State agencies to workers whose details are in the main electronic payroll.

Kenya’s public sector wage bill stood at Sh792 billion in the year to June, and is nearly half the Sh1.4 trillion the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) collected as taxes in the same period.

This is way above the 35 percent ceiling of revenues set in the Public Finance Management Act.

The wage bill has nearly doubled from Sh413 billion in 2014 on the back of a hiring spree in counties with the onset of devolution in 2013.

The government has frozen hiring for the next three years in an austerity measure aimed at reducing the country’s wage bill so as to free resources for development projects.

There will be no recruitment of staff in the next three years unless a ministry, State department or agency (MDA) gets approval from the Treasury.

SRC has accused government officers of multiplying the number of allowances from just 11 in 1999 to 247.

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Author

Timothy Omondi