This week the country was treated to a national dialogue on the size of the wage bill with discussions on whether or not civil servants should take a pay cut. H.E. the president primed the ground by announcing that he and Deputy President William Ruto would take a twenty percent hit on their salaries while those in his cabinet would see a ten percent dent effective immediately. While the gesture is good, I received it with mixed feelings as I feel it addresses the symptoms of an ailment that has festered unabated for years and the net result might actually be civil servants taking to the streets due to the obvious disparity across the pay grades. The Sarah Serem chaired Salaries and Remuneration Commission admits to the difficulty in flipping the salary switch as there is a constitutional buffer, meaning currently, a salary can only be hived off if the recipient is “sufficiently philanthropic”.
I have argued in the past that the country must be run like a business, with key metrics at the fingertips of its managers, which means business intelligence to guide decision making is made available on demand.
Human Resource Leakages
A study released early this year revealed that Kenya loses over Ksh.1.8 billion annually to ghost workers. It is rather puzzling why the biggest employer has not deployed a robust human resource management system and instead has to rely on adhoc audits to establish the true numbers of those in the workforce. Deploying a HRMS that feeds off information from various other data banks available to government, will see a self cleansing HR execution. While overly simplified in that one statement, we have seen how private business is able to stitch together and track data that ensures protection of its interests and provide information that allows them to hedge risk.
Widening the tax base and increasing collections
Development is directly correlated to smart capital committed and the main reason for the current furor is the almost comical disproportion in administration versus developmental spend by government. The revenue authority has ambitious collection targets and governors are leading a confused charge increasing taxes on an already burdened bracket. Both can surpass their targets several fold, if they made use of big data available in plain sight, even in anonymized state to craft smart strategies to widen the tax base and increase collections – from stemming current leakages and increasing the qualified tax base.
Constitutional and legal amendments will take time to realize but we can ease the strain meanwhile by deploying effective technology.