The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) increased county secretaries’ monthly salaries by a whopping Sh229,250.
County secretaries, who were previously paid Sh175,000, will now be paid Sh404,250 under the revised pay scale.
According to SRC chief executive officer Ann Gitau’s letter to governors, the basic reimbursement for a county secretary will be Sh242,550, with a housing allowance of Sh80,000 and a salary market adjustment of Sh81,700, for a total gross pay of Sh404,250.
SRC issued the recommendations during its 537th commission meeting earlier this month in response to governors’ requests to enhance the remuneration structure for county secretaries from Grade E2 to E3.
A county secretary, who also serves as the head of county public service, is in charge of coordinating and ensuring the seamless running of all county agencies. They are responsible for the governor.
The move by SRC, which comes at a time when Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) are asking for salary increases, is expected to exacerbate tensions in the devolved regions.
Already, MCAs in 18 counties that include Nakuru, Narok, Mandera, Kericho, Tana River, Embu, Kisii, Marsabit, Makueni, Wajir, Garissa, Laikipia, Kajiado, Samburu, Nyamira, West Pokot, Mombasa and Kwale, have implemented a resolution of a meeting held in Nairobi last month to suspend sittings indefinitely to push for pay hike.
County lawmakers in other units have threatened to boycott plenary sittings until their pay demands are addressed.
The MCAs are also pushing for reinstatement of a Sh2 million car grant, sitting and mileage allowances, a ward development fund and an affirmative action fund for nominated MCAs.
They also want the 30 per cent tax levied on their car reimbursement fund scrapped.
In the letter, SRC writes: “The monthly remuneration is fixed for the term of office of the county secretary and head of county public service unless reviewed and advised by Salaries and Remuneration Commission.”
The county secretaries will also benefit from official cars of engine capacity not exceeding 2,000cc and a medical insurance covering one spouse and up to four children below the age of 25 who are fully dependent on the officer.
The medical cover entails Sh3 million allocation for inpatient services, Sh200,000 for outpatient, Sh100,000 for maternity expenses, Sh50,000 for dental care and Sh50,000 for optical care.
“A County Secretary service or appointed for a fixed term of office shall be paid a service gratuity at the rate of 31 per cent of the annual pensionable emoluments for the term served. No officer shall benefit for both pension and gratuity benefits from the same public body for a similar period,” said SRC in the letter dated June 5, 2023.
The letter sent to governors also indicates that County Secretaries will further receive life insurance covers for a value equivalent to three times of their annual pensionable emoluments.
“The County Secretary shall be covered for a value equivalent to three times of the annual pensionable emoluments,” the letter further indicates.
Every County Secretary will also be eligible to a car loan of up to Sh4 million which will be recoverable within their contract term and mortgage of up to Sh20 million.
“The car loan and mortgage shall be administered and managed centrally by the county treasury, within existing requisite regulations to govern the schemes and subject to availability of funds,” the letter says County Secretaries will also be taking home Sh10,000 worth of airtime monthly and Sh10,000 annual leave allowance.
They are also entitled to security as advised by the Inspector General of Police alongside daily subsistence allowance for local and foreign travels as per the rates reviewed and advised by SRC from time to time.
The agitation for increased pay by civil servants comes at a time that the country continues to battle a wage bill crisis.
MCAs have opposed an offer by SRC that would have seen their pay increased by Sh10,000 in the first phase, which is to be implemented in the 2023/2024 financial year.
Should the SRC proposal be accepted, the MCAs, who currently earn a gross pay of Sh144,375, could earn Sh154,481 in the next financial year, with the amount rising to Sh164,588 in the 2024/25 financial year.