Parliamentarians and Bunge employees to pocket almost Sh37 billion By The Citizen Reporter 2009-11-19 The Office of the President and Cabinet Secretariat receives the highest the allocation of funds for staff allowances, and will this financial year alone, gobble up some Sh148.7 billion in payments, a new report says. The extra earnings by the civil servants in the President's Office have put it at the top of the 10 leading ministries and public agencies, whose employees wallow in the allowance gravy train, according to the report compiled by Policy Forum, a non-governmental organisation. Allowances allocated to the office, including the State House, went up by Sh15.6 billion in the 2009/2010 budget, a 12 per cent increase over the Sh133.1 billion spent in the year 2008/2009. The amount was Sh133.1 billion in the 2007/2008 budget. Parliament follows in a distant second position, and will see the MPs and staff of the National Assembly earn a whopping Sh36.8 billion in allowances over the same period. Parliament's vote reflects a 40 per cent increase over the Sh26.3 billion spent the previous year. According to the report, the Police, under the Ministry of Home Affairs is third place with Sh33.3 billion. Fourth is the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training with Sh32.3 billion. In fifth place is the National Service, whose staff will allowance payments amounting to Sh29.4 billion this year. This the single largest increase in the allowances by a massive 1,125 per cent. The agency received Sh2 billion and Sh2.4 billion over the past two respective financial years. Prison services, also under Home affairs, come sixth with Sh16.5 billion, followed by the Accountant-General's office, with Sh16.5 billion. The Prime Minister, Regional Administration and Local Government are eighth with Sh13.5 billion, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives and Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism end the list with Sh12.3 billion and Sh11 billion, respectively. The ministries of Local government, Tourism and the Prisons Department had their allowances raised by between 57 per cent and 133 per cent. The Policy Forum programme coordinator, Mr Semkae Kilonzo, told The Citizen yesterday that the report had been released to inform discussions during the planned week-long forum to assess progress in government efforts to fight poverty and enhance growth. The report was compiled using the government's own budget reports and other official documents. Mr Kilonzo said the document should form the basis of debate on policy by the government, donors and other non-state actors during the Mkukuta review meeting. The report titled, 'Reforming Allowances: A Win-Win Approach to Improved Service Delivery, Higher Salaries for Civil Servants and Saving Money', analyses the consequences of the allowances culture on public service delivery. "A good chunk of the allowances goes into meetings, whose importance and priority, have been queried by the public and should provide evidence for insightful discussions," said Mr Rakesh Rajani, of Twaweza, a citizen-centred advocacy programme to development and public accountability that was involved in compiling the report. According to the report, the government budgeted some Sh506 billion ($390 million) for allowances last fiscal year (2008/9), equivalent to the annual basic salary for 109,000 teachers, or over two thirds of all the teachers. The amount will be Sh571.1 billion this financial year. The allowances under the President's Office alone are more than the combined budgets of the ministry of East Africa Cooperation (Sh14.4 billion), ministry of Information, Culture and Sports (Sh22.3 bilion), ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development (Sh16.9 billion), ministry of Defence and National services (Sh27.6 billion), and ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (Sh21.5 billion). Policy Forum warns that despite consolidations in the wage bill in 2002 and last year, allowances this year still equaled 59 per cent of the total amount. Despite the current economic crisis, this year?s allowances were raised by 13 per cent. The report shows that two thirds of all allowances are spent on four items alone, namely per diems and daily allowances (Sh154 billion), national expenses -to pay for things like parades (Sh109 billion) and ration allowances (Sh60.5 billion). Per diem allowances have rapidly increased to 100 per cent over the two-year period. The organization argues that allowance rates considered incentives likely to induce and reward behaviour that is counterproductive to the provision of quality services by public servants. Officers working at the headquarters are said to earn five times more in allowances compared to those toiling in harsh conditions in remote areas. "By reducing allowances, the government could save money, improve the salaries of public servants and better align staff incentives with the provision of quality products and services,"says Policy Forum. Foreign trips are rich avenues said to provide government officers with an opportunity to line up their pockets with lucrative allowances that range from Sh403,000 to Sh546,000 a day. The scramble for such trips is captured by details of a government delegation to the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank held from last October 2 to 8 in Turkey. Tanzania sent a 25-member delegation that put to shame the total of 26 delegates representing the rest of the East African Community member states of Kenya (nine), Rwanda (five), Burundi (five) and Uganda (seven). This one trip alone, assuming a mid-level allowance and travel on discounted business class, likely cost the country more than Sh173 million. Recently, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda intervened to curtail the holding of seminars and training meetings he said were unnecessary. His office now approves workshops to be funded by the State and has reportedly saved billions of shillings. The President, ministers and top bureaucrats have also come under criticism for endless foreign trips and meetings through which hundreds of millions of shillings are paid to them in allowances and per diems. The Ntukamazina Commission on the harmonisation of public service salaries also recommended the curtailing of workshops and foreign trips to raise at least Sh40 billion for the improvement of public sector salaries. The report, which has yet to be made public, has elicited protests from workers unions, which have since served the government a 90-day notice to implement the recommendations or face a nationwide strike next January.