Covid-19: CoG answers SRC on health workers’ cash incentives

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The Council of Governors (CoG) has defended counties following their move to offer incentives to health workers in the fight against the Covid-19 disease.

Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) issued a statement on Saturday, after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) issued a warning, saying it was unlawful to offer special allowances without its advice.

In an April 9 letter to Mr Oparanya, SRC chair Lyn Mengich advised counties against giving the allowances, further noting that this would likely cause inequality in remuneration across the health sector.

“Whereas the commission is cognizant of the challenges faced by health professionals in the fight against Covid-19, it is concerned that due process has to be followed in the introduction of any new allowances by way of seeking an advisory from the commission as required by law,” she wrote.

‘NO VIOLATION’

But Mr Oparanya said counties that had offered the incentives had not violated any rules as they were guided by the regulations of their respective Public Service Boards.

“Such incentives are key motivators to the health personnel who are overwhelmed during this period, when all eyes are on them to tame the spread of the pandemic,” Mr Oparanya told journalists in Kisumu.

The CoG Chairman noted that the incentives were a short term measure to boost the health workers’ morale as they worked to save lives.

“The SRC should be ready to support programmes being put in place by the county governments to improve the welfare of the personnel.”

He added, “I also urge close assistance to medical staff in terms of provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to ensure their safety as they are our first soldiers in this war.”

CHINA EVICTIONS

Regarding reports of forced evictions and other ill treatment of Africans in China, Mr Oparanya asked the Foreign Affairs ministry to speedily “save Kenyans suffering” there.

“The Council of Governors has observed with concern the way Kenyan citizens, among them students, are being mistreated in China in the aftermath of corona virus outbreak,” he said.

“We are asking the Kenyan authority to move with speed and save suffering Kenyans in China and ensure their safety.”

Kenya and China, he noted, have had a cordial relationship that can be undermined by the “racial discrimination”.

The ministry said on Friday that it had raised a complaint with Beijing and that it expected quick resolutions.

DONATIONS

Mr Oparanya also appealed to the national government for strict guidelines for distribution of food to vulnerable Kenyans to avert ugly incidents such as those witnessed in Kibra, Nairobi County, on Friday.

“I take this opportunity to thank former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other well-wishers for their donations to support residents of Nairobi hard-hit by the government’s restrictions on movements in and outside the city,” he said.

“However, our concerns is how the government distributed the food stuff donated by Odinga’s family, leading to chaotic scenes that left some people with injuries and exposed them to risks of contracting Covid-19.”

The governor suggested that food vouchers be issued for collections at designated areas to prevent chaos.

SACRIFICE

Mr Oparanya further asked traders not to take advantage of the high demand for food and raise their prices.

“We require everybody’s sacrifice in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

“We therefore urge more well-wishers to provide assistance to cushion Kenyans as they observe the government’s rules and regulations in response to the pandemic.”

Speaking in Kisumu , the governor also said Kakamega’s leaders had held a meeting on issues including the fight against the coronavirus.

“We have agreed to pool resources and work jointly in this fight,” he said.

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