Ruto revives CAS positions, adding Sh450 million annually to wage bill

President William Ruto has succeeded in bringing back the positions of Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS), offering political rejects a lifeline but at the expense of inflating the country’s public service wage bill by at least Sh450 million a year.

This follows a gazettement of The National Government Administration Laws (Amendment) Act, 2024 that anchors the position of CASs in law, with the legal changes coming into force from May 17.

The legal changes have, however, not capped the number of CASs, and this offers Dr Ruto an opportunity to reward political allies who lost in the elections or those from the ruling coalition who are yet to get plum positions in the government.

The CASs will inflate the public service wage bill, further squeezing funds available for development and delivery of basic service to citizens.

“Insert the following new section immediately after section 12; there is established the office of the Chief Administrative Secretary which shall be an office in the public service,” reads the new Act. The public sector wage bill was Sh1.1 trillion in the year that ended June last year and is projected to hit Sh1.71 trillion in the financial year ending next month. A CAS’s gross salary is capped at Sh780, 000 according to a job evaluation by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), with Sh459, 113 being for basic salary, Sh165,000 for house allowance and a salary market adjustment of Sh155,887.

This means that taxpayers will cough up at least Sh450 million a year if Dr Ruto decides to appoint 50 CASs as he had done last year before the move was quashed by the courts.

The amount excludes other benefits like car grants, mortgages and medical cover with the CASs set to earn more than Members of Parliament who get a gross salary of Sh710,000 a month. With the return of CASs, questions abound on whether they will offer taxpayers value for money.

Besides salaries and other benefits, CASs like other senior government officers, are also likely to globe-trot on official assignments, further burdening taxpayers. The gazettement of the CAS’s position comes despite active cases in the court over the position which was earlier described as illegal. Dr Ruto had last year nominated 50 CASs and forwarded their names to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for approval, but the High Court in a Judgement on July 3, declared the office unconstitutional.

The High Court had said that there was no reasonable public participation in creation of 27 positions, prompting the Kenya Kwanza wing in Parliament to table a Bill that sought to ground the positions in law.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the entire complement of 50 CASs is therefore unconstitutional,” Justice Kanyi Kimondo and Aleem Visram said in the ruling. Attorney-General Justin Muturi then challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeal on grounds that the appointments of the CASs were time-bound. The court however declined to overturn the High Court’s ruling.

Mr Muturi had also argued that CASs were critical in delivery of government services, an argument that the court also shot down saying that a service provided in breach of the constitution is no service at all.

Dr Ruto, like his predecessor, is betting on the positions to further reward political loyalists.

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