Ruto poised to win battle for CAS appointees as MPs move to scrap limit » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 — President William Ruto is set to win the battle to save his 50 appointees for Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) after a parliamentary team dropped a proposal to cap the deputy ministerial slots at 22.

A report tabled by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) approved the establishment of the CAS posts describing the slots as necessary despite vehement opposition.

Those opposed to the positions first introduced under President Uhuru Kenyatta said the appointees would create a bloated Executive.

JLAC members had proposed to cap the deputy ministerial positions to correspond with the maximum Cabinet Secretary appointments allowed under the Constitution.

Lawmakers however shelved the proposal in last-minute changes clearing the way for multiple deputy ministerial slots per ministry.

The proposal means taxpayers will shoulder a higher wage bill burden to sustain the appointments as Ruto’s administration moves to anchor the appointments declared unlawful in law.

The fate of Ruto’s CAS appointees has been hanging in the balance after the High Court barred them from assuming office after declaring the positions unlawful.

President Ruto has defended his decision to appoint 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries to deputize 22 Cabinet Secretaries citing a huge workload.

No parliamentary approval

JLAC Chairperson George Murugara proposed to anchor the appointments under the Public Service Commission (PSC), requiring the President to appoint office bearers in line with the recommendations of the Commission.

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Under the proposed framework, CAS appointees will require no approval by the National Assembly, unlike Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries.

“Eventually after debate, the capping was removed because we did evaluate this office to show it’s an office in the public service which has the power to create offices as well as the President,” Murugara asserted.

“Depending on [the] need, the President can appoint the number of CAS depending on the exigency he is dealing with,” he said.

Murugara explained that the National Assembly will sal loopholes cited by the High Court in declaring the positions unconstitutional.

The High Court declared President Ruto’s 50 CAS appointments unconstitutional in June citing irregular public participation.

In the decision, the court ruled that although PSC subjected the first complement of 23 CASs to public participation, it conducted no similar exercise regarding the additional 27.

The petitioners argued the President had unconstitutionally created 27 extra positions by nominating the 50 CASs to the office against an approved office establishment of 23.

Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo supported the formation of the positions largely awarded to loyalists including election losers.

“We opened up the capping to give the President the power and a leeway to appoint as many as necessary with advice and consultation from the Public Service Commission mandated to abolish and make offices,” he said.

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Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, who sits in the JLAC committee, issued a dissenting opinion terming the CAS position a conflict of roles.

He argued that the proposed office duplicates roles assigned to Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries.

“There is no new role being given to the CASs so we are creating a duplication of roles with the dangers of giving some roles by legislation to people who have constitutional roles,” he said.

The Rarieda lawmaker argued that public participation preceding the drafting of the Constitution (2010) yielded consensus to abolish the position of Assistant Minister.

“We are seeking to defeat the will of Kenyans as a House. That is unacceptable,” Amollo said adding the move would sabotage gains under the new constitutional order.

He challenged proponents to subject the proposal to a national referendum.

“Proposal to introduce an uncapped number of CASs is indeed an affront to the constitution and would occasion additional expense on public finances and pose an unnecessary burden to taxpayers,” Amollo stated.

Placed above Principal Secretaries in pecking order, CASs will earn a basic pay of Sh780,000 under Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) guidelines.

SRC revised the basic pay upwards from Sh765,188 citing a job evaluation that put the position on a higher grade.

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