Nakuru County government has launched the biometric registration of its employees to get rid of ghost workers and entrench efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery.
Governor Susan Kihika however assured that the exercise, which will verify staff on the county payroll and their qualifications, was not meant to victimize anyone but to ensure that all public servants were accounted for.
She said with the biometric registration, the County government would be able to put to rest the issue of ghost workers and enhance efficiency in public resources management.
“This will not only give us a good picture of the capabilities we have in our service, but also provide us data on how we can better deploy these capabilities,” said Kihika.
The governor explained that the acquired data would be used to build a digital registry that would enhance transparency in all human resource management processes, including promotion, deployment and accountability.
A biometric staff audit conducted by Price-Waterhouse Coopers between May 28 and June 16, 2018 revealed that the Nakuru County government paid an average of Sh1.13 million annually to ghost workers.
The audit report further revealed that 23 employees were not accounted for but were still retained in the county payroll, taking home salaries and benefits. The report also indicated that 136 workers in the payroll were missing from the biometric register.
The audit revealed that during the now-defunct municipal system, positions of irrelevant employees including rat catchers were created, contributing to the ever-blotting wage bill.
While observing that the registration exercise would enable strategic planning and budgeting for human resource development, including recruitment, training, and succession management, the governor directed that every staff member appear in person for the registration, having filled the biometric registration form prior to the exercise.
The Governor at the same time called on all county employees to cooperate and participate in the registration exercise to expedite its completion adding that it is in their best interest to get registered lest they are counted as ghost workers.
She said the exercise would be rolled out across all the 11 sub-counties of Kuresoi South, Kuresoi North, Molo, Njoro, Rongai, Subukia, Bahati, Nakuru Town West, Nakuru Town East, Gilgil and Naivasha where workers were required to present an original national ID card, a completed biometric data form, original academic and professional certificates, letters of first and current appointments, a current pay slip and a birth certificate.
The move comes at a time when the county is grappling with a massive wage bill, 10 years since the advent of devolution, which gobbles up more than half of the county’s annual budget.
The devolved unit has more than 6,000 staff on its payroll, most of whom are carryovers from the defunct municipal and county councils. In the past five years, the county has recruited more employees, adding more than 1,200 to the payroll.
According to the 2017/2018 Auditor General report, Nakuru County government’s wage bill increased from Sh4,443,861,221 in 2014/2015 to Sh5,110, 659,087 in 2016/2017 financial year and 5, 554,520,308 in the 2017/2018 financial year.
Records from the finance department indicate that out of the Sh17 billion budget for the 2022/2023 financial year, the county will use a whopping Sh7.46 billion (43.6 per cent) for salaries and wages.
The county government, according to the data, has been exceeding the recommended expenditure of 35 per cent for the past five years.
The Public Finance Management Act 2015 sets a limit of the county government’s expenditure on wages and benefits at 35 per cent of the county’s total revenue.