Governor to call for a forensic audit on workers to tame soaring wage bill

Taita-Taveta governor Andrew Mwadime plans to call for an intensive forensic audit on the human resource department to weed out suspected ghost workers who are responsible for an inflated wage bill that hampers development in the county.

Apart from examining the authenticity of workers in the payroll, the audit will also establish their qualification and suitability to serve in certain critical positions. This came after it emerged dozens of workers might be holding positions they are not qualified for.

Speaking in Mwatate on Wednesday after a five-hour meeting with workers’ union officials, the governor said he was aware of many challenges the workers had endured over the years including delayed salaries, suspension over flimsy grounds, poor working environment and intimidations.

He added that his administration would adopt a meet-and-talk policy where all matters affecting the effective service delivery in the county would be candidly discussed.

The governor was accompanied by his deputy Christine Kilalo.

“The workers are key to effective service delivery. To streamline the challenges, we will establish numbers, authenticity and suitability of workers in the payroll. We must make sure money needed to sort out workers’ issues is not going to ghost employees,” he said.

The workers’ union present included Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), County Government Workers Union, Union of Laboratory Technologists, Kenya Health Professional Society, Union of Veterinary Practitioners and Union of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) amongst others.

During the meeting, the governor received petitions detailing various challenges faced by workers. Amongst them are delayed salaries, lack of equipment, understaffing in some departments, non-payment of allowances, lack of training, discrimination in promotions and opaqueness in giving of training opportunities.

Mr Synette Ogolla, the chair of KNUN in the county, said the county needed to remunerate the Community Health Volunteers (CHV) for the critical work they were doing at the grassroots levels. He added that the agreement to give them some stipend has never been honoured yet they continued to work and serve the residents.

“The CHVs need to be considered for the work they are doing. Their services are very critical to the county,” he said.

While acknowledging the enormity of the challenges presented, the governor pledged to have his administration check on the issues that could be handled quickly to jumpstart the process.

He further said all files for workers fired irregularly from the county government would be reopened and reviewed afresh. He stated that his administration would apply high-standards of professionalism as required by law.

“The files for workers fired irregularly and unprocedurally will be relooked into. We must inject professionalism into every activity of the county government,” he said.

Data from the County Public Service Board shows the county has approximately 3,200 employees. In the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the county allocated Sh 2.5 billion for payments of salaries. This wage bill expenditure is one of the key burdens straining the county resources.

The governor further disclosed that his office was expecting departmental reports that will paint the true picture on the actual status of the county. Amongst the key issues the governor is expected to grapple with is the question of pending bills.

“I am not in a position to give figures on the county debt level and other pending bills until the reports are ready,” he said.



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