Governors added fewer jobs in 2018 than in the previous post-devolution years, ending the hiring frenzy that left counties with a rising wage bill and inadequate cash for projects.
Counties hired 3,200 employees last year, down from 18,200 in 2017, 11,000 in 2016 and 14,400 in 2015.
This helped to slow down the additional wage bill by Sh12 billion, leaving the total to stand at Sh126.2 billion. The rise slowed compared to the additional wages of Sh17.9 billion in 2017 and Sh14.4 billion in 2016.
Governors have been accused of presiding over a hiring spree egged on by the need to reward cronies and relatives with jobs.
“This decline was partly attributed to expiry of hired temporary workers services by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in 2017 and stabilisation of employment by the counties,” said the report.
New jobs created in the formal sector declined from 114.4 thousand in 2017 to 78.4 thousand in 2018—the lowest since 2012.
State-owned firms also reduced the workers count from 110,100 to 96,700, reflecting a 12.1 per cent cut that could be linked to layoffs and retirement of staff.
That central government added 8,700 workers to its payroll, a change of 4.5 per cent, but its wage bill rose 13 per cent.
Governors have in the past defied calls for to curb ballooning wage bills in order to free resources for projects.
While the national government went slow on hiring, counties stepped up recruitment in recent years, squeezing allocation for development projects like building roads, water and sewerage infrastructure.
Counties added 47, 000 workers between 2014 and last year in a period that saw the central government increase staff numbers by 26, 000.
“Unsustainability of county governments’ wage bill is caused mainly by uncontrolled recruitment of non-core personnel without regard to approved staff establishment or remuneration guidelines,” Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said earlier.
Counties pay and allowances accounted for 72.84 per cent of the Sh50.97 billion of total expenditure in the three months to September last year, Controller of Budget says.
Expenditure on the development projects, the report shows, was Sh3.51 billion — meaning for every Sh100 spent by the countries in the July-September period, less than Sh7 went to development projects.
Operations and maintenance took up 20.27 per cent of the funds, leaving a meagre 6.89 per cent for development.
Low development spend affects project plans such as healthcare, water, waste management and feeder roads — the key devolved functions.