Kenya’s Wage Bill Problem

Kenyans have now woken up and smelt the coffee, and they now know too well that our ‘new governance system’, aka governors flying around in chartered choppers and crisscrossing the country in top range Range Rovers is now costing us water and firewood. Mmmh!!! Who would have thought so? The good thing about the strong aroma of the hot morning coffee is that it opens a few brain cells. We can see that we have a bloated system of governance and that we are paying dearly to keep the current levels of bureaucratic flatulence intact. For a country that is not richly endowed with mineral and oil resources, the Kenyan taxpayer is increasingly finding himself/ herself overburdened.

Estimates place the number of public sector workers at over 700,000, a humongous figure this is. In the 2012/2013 financial year, the total amount paid to civil servants in salaries and wages stood at Sh458 billion. Kenya has 700,000 public sector employees in its books. Salaries and Remuneration Commission Chairperson Sarah Serem said about a half of the total workforce in the public sector does not exist. That means Kenya has 300,000 ghost workers on its payroll. How appropriate, Kenyans are paying dearly; it’s like getting air-burgers for your money instead of real ones in the midst of severe hunger pangs.


Kenya’s public sector appropriates 12.1% of the country’s GDP in wages; this is way above internationally acceptable standards which recommend 7% of GDP for public wages. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the government employed a measly 27.3% of total government expenditure to development expenditure; this means that over 72% of the national budget goes to fund the excesses of Kenya’s public expenditure. Such figures portray such an asymmetry between the country’s development aspirations and the policies and strategies it employs to achieve those development aspirations. Of course, such poor resource allocation priorities only mean that the country’s hopes of achieving the auspicious aspirations in its development blueprint, ‘Vision 2030’ remain pie in the sky.