Government too broke to pay teachers, Treasury says
“Expect no extra cent in your account.”
That is the message from the government to teachers even after they were awarded a 50 to 60 per cent pay rise by the court.
The government says there is no money to give the teachers.
This could escalate the standoff between the state and teachers who have threatened to go on strike if their salaries are not increased.
On Monday, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the figures teachers were demanding had not been included in this financial year’s budget.
“Where will I get Sh17 billion to give the teachers? Even so, there is an appeal whose ruling has not been given,” Mr Rotich said.
He said the three avenues the government could pursue to get the money could have serious implications on the country’s economy.
“The first option is to increase taxes. The second is to borrow while the third involves cutting down expenditure. None of these would be easy to implement,” Mr Rotich told journalists.
The cabinet secretary said if teachers have their way, the Value Added Tax could be increased from 16 to 20 per cent while income tax could go up by more than 30 per cent.
The CS said borrowing money to pay salaries was not sustainable and practical.
On expenditure, he said the amount of money going to devolved governments could be reduced.
“Obviously, this will have serious consequences,” he said.
“Some of these court rulings should take into consideration the economic impact they create. Are we rubbishing the Salaries and Remuneration Commission whose mandate the Constitution clearly spells out? As much as we respect the rule of the law, I just cannot see where this money will come from.”
According to the National Treasury, Sh350 billion is being used to pay taxes, Sh300 billion going to county governments while Sh550 billion is used to pay civil servants.
Other expenditure that cannot be touched are operational expenses within ministries, government departments and agencies, the Constituency Development Fund money and the free primary and secondary education kitty.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers have threatened to mobilise their members to boycott work should the government fail to honour the ruling that offered them the pay rise.
Mr Rotich also said honouring teachers’ demands would set a precedent.
He said other government employees are likely to lobby for salary increments if teachers get the money.