About 149 allowances that civil servants have been enjoying will be either merged, harmonized, or totally scrapped by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

This is to reduce the current wage bill and promote equality in the pay grade of the 750, 000 workers in the sector.

The review by SRC was motivated by the fact that some public workers have been using allowances as an excuse to pocket huge sums of money.The first phase of the review will involve  house, hardship, leave and subsistence allowances.

According to the Remuneration body, some of these allowances are unnecessary and should be scrapped out.

Currently, Kenya’s public wage bill has skyrocketed to Ksh 700 billion a year. This is about half of the taxes that are collected by the government.

“In the medium term, it is expected that public sector wage bill will be reduced by Ksh 8.85 billion annually as a result of implementation of the reviewed remuneration and benefits structure for State Officers,” SRC revealed in their internal action plans.

The current allowances have created inequality among public workers doing the same job in different ministries. For instance, an employee could be earning double their counterparts in another ministry whereas they work the same job. Harmonization of their current allowances is likely to equalize their pay which will boost the morale and efficiency of the workers.

However, revision of the allowances might leave a bad taste in most public workers’ mouth. This is because, more than half of what most workers earn are allowances. Consequently, scrapping and harmonizing their allowances will mean a reduction in their salaries.

“A survey commissioned by SRC  revealed that 61 different types of remunerative allowances account for 70 per cent of gross pay for public service employees. Allowances have the effect of doubling employee’s pay and in some instances growing it by a factor of 10,” as reported by the Standard Newspaper.

The Acting Secretary General of Union of Kenya Civil Servants, Jerry Ole Kina, has cautioned the SRC to proceed with caution.

“It must be done in a very systematic way. The matter touching on allowances is very tricky and therefore should be a gradual process where eventually it affects those being employed afresh and not those already in service,” said Mr. Ole Kina.