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Treasury in dilemma over hefty teachers pay award

As the heavy impact of the Sh17 billion lush award to teachers would have on the national economy is tabulated, the government was yesterday grappling with means of raising revenue to implement the 50 to 60 per cent pay hike following an order by the Supreme Court for immediate implementation.

Even while acknowledging there was no way out of implementing the pay hike, the National Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge warned that the ruling would have a devastating effect on the national financial status as the massive increase had not been factored into the 2015/16 National Budget.

Thugge spoke as details emerged on what each category of teachers would earn in the windfall that is supposed to be in their banks at the end of this month. (Refer to table) If every teacher is awarded a salary increase of 50 per cent (the minimum set by the court) the highest paid category (Chief Principal) will earn Sh189,213 up from Sh126,172.

The lowest paid (P1) teachers will gain an average increase of Sh10,145. This category, who are the majority in the profession, are paid Sh20,289. According to the Teachers Service Commission records, there are about 89 Chief Principals, 170 Senior Principals, 466 principals, 9,202 Principal Graduate Teachers II and 33,660 Senior Graduate Teachers.

Other categories are Graduate Teacher I (57,582), Graduate Teacher II (49,446), Under Graduate Teacher (16,273), Approved Teachers IV (35,227) and 90,945 P1 teachers.

If the pay increase is to be implemented, Thugge said the government would be forced to explore various options, including introducing a supplementary budget to the National Assembly, increasing taxes or borrowing internally.

“We are working on the matter now and, as we speak, we are looking at all the possibilities which could, at worst, force Kenyans to fund the inflated wage bill,” he told journalists after meeting members of the National Assembly (Finance and Planning Committee).

Thugge, who was accompanied by technocrats from the National Treasury, said introducing a supplementary budget would mean cutting down on other essential expenditures, including development portfolios. However, he dismissed the possibility of borrowing, saying the law only allows the country to borrow for development purposes and not recurrent expenditure.

“The Executive is not able to raise the deficit of Sh500 billion which is required for the current financial year 2015/16,” he said. He said the Executive would seek the help and support of the National Assembly to raise the said money in order to bridge the gap.

While calling on the government to honour the Supreme Court ruling, the committee chair Benjamin Langat, however, raised concern it could set a bad precedent where other public service cadres could agitate for a pay hike against the Salaries and Remuneration Commission recommendations.

“The concern we have is that when you raise the salaries for one group, there are risks others could also ask for more money,” said Langat.

Meanwhile, TSC has invited the secretaries general of teachers unions (Knut and Kuppet) to a meeting at its headquarters at 8am today.

The agenda of the meeting called by TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia is to deliberate on the impact of the court ruling. This comes as the unions vowed to call a strike when schools re-open on Monday should the government fail to comply with the court order.

Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion said the union had instructed its lawyers to write to TSC and the National Treasury to cause revision of the salaries to adhere to Labour Relations Court ruling, effective end of August.

He called on TSC to recall the already printed August pay slips and incorporate the 50 to 60 per cent pay rise awarded by the court. Kuppet officials were in a meeting with their legal team for the better part of yesterday to forge the way forward should TSC fail to honour the new pay directive.

The Supreme Court on Monday said it had no jurisdiction to rule against the decision by the Court of Appeal which asked TSC to comply with a Labour Relations Court ruling and increase teachers’ salaries pending the hearing of their appeal slated for September 22.

TSC had filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the award by the labour court that had been reaffirmed by the Court of Appeal.

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