Gvt slashes part of subsistence allowance for civil servants

Civil servants who draw daily subsistence allowance (DSA) while on assignment outside their work stations will no longer draw meal stipends after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission(SRC) advised against such payouts.

A meal allowance is presently payable to officers travelling on duty within the country but who are not required to spend a night away from the duty station.

The provision has, however, been abused by civil servants who raked in billions of shillings in meal allowance every year in addition to the DSA — a position which translates to double payment.

To stem the wastage of taxpayer funds, the SRC has now recommended that civil servants on assignment outside their workstations only draw either of the allowances.

“Consequently, SRC advises that: meal allowance will only be paid to officers travelling on duty within the country but who are not required to spend a night away from the regular duty station where ordinarily DSA would be payable. Meal allowance will not be paid alongside DSA,” the commission said.

This comes as the SRC set improved meal allowance rates for civil servants in an attempt to curb the urge for double payments while on assignment away from the office.

In the new rates, civil servants will be paid between Sh300 and Sh1,500 in breakfast allowance, depending on their job group. The payout for lunch and or dinner has been set at between Sh600 and Sh3,000 subject to one’s job ranking.

“This circular supersedes the circular Ref. No: MSPS/18/2A/ (89) dated 12 November 2009 on payment of meal allowance and any other circulars/guidelines previously issued to the public service on the matter,” SRC said.

The new meal allowance rate card is an improvement from the current terms where civil servants in Job Group P-R, for example, draw Sh750 for breakfast and Sh1,500 for meals.

The SRC is currently restructuring allowances for civil servants with a target to save up to Sh100 billion annually through the merger of some payouts or the elimination of repetitive ones.

The commission has already recommended the abolishment of retreat allowance, sitting allowance for institutional internal committee members, task force allowance and and non-practice allowance saying they are tantamount to double payment.

The SRC verdict came five months after the commission chairperson, Lyn Mengich, said a review of the allowances policy would be ready by the end of this year, paving way for trimming public workers’ juicy allowances and saving taxpayer funds.

Currently, there are over 247 remunerative and facilitative allowances payable within the public service, up from 31 in 1999, straining the national bill through double payments. Besides trimming allowances, the SRC targets to cap allowances at a maximum of 40 percent of a public worker’s gross pay.

Retreat allowance is currently paid to public officers participating in special assignments meant to review, develop and produce policy documents away from their work station.

The SRC, however, argues that the review, development, and production of policy documents is a job responsibility that is factored in determining the relative worth of a job during a job evaluation, hence is catered for by salaries paid to civil servants.

“Payment of the allowance in addition to the basic salary, therefore, amounts to double compensation. Consequently, SRC advises that the allowance be abolished and ceases to be payable,” the commission said in a circular.

The SRC also proposes the abolishment of internal task force allowances terming them a form of double pay because the members are already compensated to execute the functions of their employer institutions.

The SRC further targets to scrap sitting allowance for members of institutional internal committees which are constituted to assist the execution of the mandate of the institutions.

“Payment of the allowance to institutional internal committee members, in addition to the basic salary, amounts to double compensation as they are constituted to execute the mandate of the institution. Consequently, SRC advises that the allowance be abolished and ceases to be payable,” the commission said.

The non-practice allowance, which was intended to facilitate the attraction and retention of specific scarce, rare, and critical professional skills in public service, is also set for a shake-up.

The commission said while the allowance served its purpose when it was first introduced, the situation has changed hence the need to scrap it.

“Over the years, the capacity for professional skills in the public service has progressively grown to fill the gap for which the non-practice allowance was payable,” it said.

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