Where's my money

Kenya: Ruto administration ‘broke’ and unable to pay civil servants 

By Victor Abuso

Posted on April 11, 2023 09:58

 © Kenya’s President William Ruto at State House in Nairobi, Kenya November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi
Kenya’s President William Ruto at State House in Nairobi, Kenya November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

In Kenya, President William Ruto’s government says it is unable to pay civil servants their March salaries because of financial challenges.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the money collected in the last two weeks by the Kenya Revenue Authority was meant to pay salaries, but was used to repay government loans that had matured.

“It is true we are having challenges in paying salaries. We are a responsible government, we have to pay our debt,” he said.

Gachagua blames the former government of retired president Uhuru Kenyatta for the misfortune, saying huge sums of money were borrowed from international lenders.“We inherited a dilapidated economy with empty coffers,” he said, while defending the current regime, which he claims is working hard to rebuild the economy.

By December 2022, Kenya’s public debt had crossed the KSh9tn ($67bn) mark, as the Ruto government planned to borrow another KSh720bn, which would raise public debt.

Admitting to the challenge, Finance Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said government workers will have to tighten their belts, indicating that more salary delays are in the offing.

“The government is in a financial fix with nowhere to get more funds,” he says.

According to records from the finance ministry, the Kenyan government needs at least KSh50bn monthly to pay salaries to its civil servants.

Apart from debt, the Ruto government says the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are also to blame for the hard economic times in Kenya.

Empty pockets during long Easter break

Mary, who did not want to give her surname, a nurse at a local government hospital in Nairobi, had hoped to travel upcountry to see her family during the holiday. However, salary delays forced her to cancel her journey.

“I’m always paid on the 27th every month. We were informed there will be a delay. I don’t know what to do,” she tells The Africa Report.

With reports that only the police and military have received their pay, David Ndii, the chairperson of Ruto’s Council of Economic Advisors, warns that if the huge government debt persists, the government might consider more action.

“Retrenching staff could be among [the] government’s options,” he says.

Opposition demands probe

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi  is calling for parliamentary investigations into the Kenya Revenue Authority following the salary delays.