The Office of the Controller of Budget now wants the Mombasa County Government to stop paying enhanced nurses’ allowances until the approval is granted by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
In a letter addressed to Governor Hassan Joho, Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo cautioned the county against proceeding with the payments, failure to which they will be denied funds.
“The office is aware that Mombasa County Government is paying enhanced allowances to nurses contrary to those approved by SRC. The purpose of this letter is to request that you do not pay any enhanced allowances to the nurses until approval is granted by SRC,” states the letter.
As a result, she directed the county to recover all the enhanced allowances already paid to nurses saying the payments were done contrary to the law.
“Please note that failure to comply with this request could be deemed as a serious material breach and occasion stoppage of transfer of funds in line Article 225(3) of the Constitution,” reads the letter.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010, requires the Controller of Budget not to approve any withdrawal from public funds unless satisfied that the withdrawal is authorized by the law.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission is the only institution mandated to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers, and advise the National and County Governments on the remuneration and benefits of all public officers.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission recently disregarded the payment of enhanced nurses’ allowances saying there are no funds.
The Chair of the Commission Lynn Mengich said it does not matter if some counties have made a commitment to pay, claiming that what is being demanded is not attainable and sustainable.
She further said if nurses are paid the allowances other clinical officers who have already declared an interest to go on strike will also demand the same, and in the interest of fairness they will have to be given.
At least some 10 counties have been affected by the ongoing nurses strikes, whose effects may spill over to Mombasa County following this directive.
In the return-to-work formula that was signed last year July, nurses’ service allowance was to be enhanced by a monthly amount of Sh3,000 shillings while uniform allowance was to be enhanced by Sh5,000 annually.