Civil Servants Union reject plans to hike rent on government buildings

Mr Tom Odege

State plans to recover Ksh. 1billion in arrears

By The Weekly Vision team

The Union of Kenya Civil Servants has opposed plans by the government to review the rent on buildings it owns upwards by up to 10 times. The plan, according to government online sources, is designed to impose rent that reflects “current” market rates.

The union has further rejected plans by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) move to “blacklist” union leaders involved in active politics. Union leaders said this was a draconian and “uncivil” way of “gagging” leaders who have answered to “the call of duty.”

Union secretary general Tom Odege described the plans as “too abrupt and unfair”. He said the state should stop “arm-twisting” its staff at a time when most civil servants have lost lives on the “front-line” battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government had failed to find “credible” ways of reducing the bloated public wage bill through “expanding its tax bracket” and was “unfairly targeting civil servants” already facing harsh economic times

Tom Odege

The union, he said, had given a strike notice and would down tools if the government fails to shelve plans to freeze salary increases and allowances for 2 years. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) announced in May that it was abiding by the IMF demand as a “condition” for the institution to release a loan of Ksh. 257 billion to help cushion the economy against the ravages of Covid -19.

The move kicked up a storm with many Kenyans’ camping on social media sites urging the IMF and World Bank to stop lending to the heavily indebted government in Kenya with even more debts, now soaring to Ksh. 9 trillion and counting.

Mr Odege said the government had failed to find “credible” ways of reducing the bloated public wage bill through “expanding its tax bracket” and was “unfairly targeting civil servants” already facing harsh economic times. He said this fresh move to “appease” western donor agencies, the IMF and World Bank was being directed at the “wrong targets”. He urged the state to cut down on public wastage and corruption in the county governments.

“The government should be asking KRA to expand its national tax collection base and move on elements defaulting on taxes like landlords and some key private sector entrepreneurs,” he said. Odege said some KRA officials in the Domestic Taxes wing had failed to collect tax “more efficiently” and were instead “taking fat bribes” and becoming rich at the expense of their employer.

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