CS Moses Kuria proposes biometric registration of public servants to root out ghost workers

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 27 Feb, 2024 15:55 | 3 mins read
Public Service Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria
Public Service Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria. PHOTO/@HonMoses_Kuria/X

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria wants the government to implement a biometric system to register all public servants.

The system, Kuria says, will root out ghost workers, who have been siphoning billions from public coffers for years.

"As a country that is very religious, we are not doing very well in chasing away ghosts. This country is full of ghosts. We are paying ghost civil servants, ghost teachers. We are spending capitation on ghost students. We are sending cash transfers to ghost elderly citizens," Kuria stated.

"As we accelerate our prayers to exorcise ghosts, the Ministry of Public Service will embark on biometric registration of all the 900,000 of us who are paid by the taxpayers including counties. A payroll audit is also underway,"

Ghost workers in public sector

Early this month, the Public Service Commission (PSC) revealed that in the  2022/2023 financial year, there were 19,467 additional employees in different government agencies and departments against the approved staffing levels. 

According to PSC, there are over 20,000 ghost workers both in the county and national governments.

According to the report by PSC, in the 2022/2023 financial year, 19,467 unauthorised staff were added to the government payroll. Ministries and state departments got the lion's share of the unauthorised staff at 12,535 followed by state corporations at 4,558 and public universities at 2,287. 

"There was an excess of 19,467 members of staff recorded in the staff registers against those reported in the approved filled vacancies. Six organisations had high disparities with an excess of over 100 members of staff compared to the staff recorded in the staff register Two of the organisations (State House and New Kenya Cooperative Creameries) had a disparity of 483 and 492 respectively," the report stated.

According to Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango, 70 per cent of budgetary allocation, both national and county governments, is spent on recurrent expenditure including paying salaries.

Among the government organisations which had more staff than recommended include the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) which had 115 per cent more staff than the recommended numbers, National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority with more than 72 per cent of the recommended number, State Department for Devolution at 61 per cent, State Department for Higher Education and Research at 69 per cent and the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services at 59 per cent.

PSC also noted that several entities' staff registers did not tally with the number of staffers in their premises, a discrepancy which also touched the State House.

State House had an excess of 483 staffers, slightly below New KCC which had a discrepancy of 492 employees that were not captured in the staff register.

PSC noted that 289 government organisations had fewer staff than approved.

“The number of staff in the staff registers did not tally with the number of vacancies filled. The unexplained variance could create room for unauthorised recruitment of staff. An audit be undertaken to establish the reason for the variance of the number of staff in the staff registers against the number of vacancies filled,” PSC stated.

In the financial year ending June 2024, it is estimated that the government's spending on salaries and wages will hit a new high of Ksh589.5 billion, up from Ksh539.6 billion. The amount could hit Ksh983.8 billion in 2027/2028, according to estimates by the National Treasury.

PSC is tasked with the establishment and abolition of offices, provision of competent human resources, promotion of good governance and ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of quality services in the public service.

It is also tasked with exercising disciplinary control over and removing persons holding or acting in those offices.

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