The government is planning to send home thousands of non-teaching staff in all public universities as part of measures to mitigate the financial crisis  facing the country. 

The chairman of Vice Chancellors of Public Universities, Prof Geoffrey Muluvi, said during the meeting that was attended with the Treasury and parliamentary committee on education that universities were struggling to be operational and while managing debts owed to staff and other government entities.  

“Universities have accrued unremitting statutory payments to KRA, pension scheme dues, insurance premiums, Sacco contributions, NHIF and NSSF. The total amount owned by September 2020 is about Sh37.3 billion, most of which is to KRA,” said Prof Muluvi. 

The Treasury made a suggestion to the universities to sell their idling assets, which includes land and buildings to generate funds. The funds should help them pay their creditors and staff’s pensions.   

Most of the university’s debts are owed to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and have accumulated to a whopping Ksh 37.3 billion. 

The National Treasury on the other hand said other possible measures to be taken include writing off unremitted deductions by universities.  

Julius Muia, the National Treasury Principal Secretary, urged the universities to consider closing down some of their constituent colleges   which has expanded their general financial expenses.   

The PS also said that the difference between the teaching and non-teaching staff in most of the universities was so high.  

“The teaching to non-teaching ration in some of these universities is as high as 1:4,” said Muia. 

The Education PS, Simon Nabukwesi, observed that the university budget has greatly been affected by the implementation of Collective Bargain Agreements (CBA) repeatedly over the years.  

Citing an example of the 2019/20 financial year, the PS said that universities’ approved budget was Ksh43.756 billion but the CBAs took over Ksh6.6 billion. 

“After the payment of the 2010-2013 CBA amounting to Sh7.8 billion, the public universities determined that they still require a total of Sh1.3 billion to settle the pension component of the CBA,” Nabukwesi noted. 

One of the university staff who spoke to a local media anonymously, said that if the government implements the lay off suggestions, many families will be affected considering some of them have worked with their employers for over 20 years.  

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani (Right) and Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui (Left), at NSSF building in Nairobi on January 16, 2020.

The job loss adds on to a growing unemployment crisis that have seen millions lose their source of income due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.