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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK

World: Africa

Kenya's civil servants face axe

Conservationist Richard Leakey was appointed recently to tackle civil service corruption

Tens of thousands of Kenyan civil servants are fearing for their jobs after Finance Minister Chris Okemo announced drastic economic reform plans to win back IMF funding,

Mr Okemo said bold steps were needed because growth had slowed dramatically, foreign investment had slumped and unemployment and poverty were on the increase.

He said the entire Kenyan Government would be reduced in size, with job cuts in all ministries and the civil service.

Redundancy pay

He did not say how many jobs would go, although newspapers have predicted some 60,000 losses.

Mr Okemo said the government will seek the help of donors to share the costs of the restructuring exercise, and to help those being laid off.

"Hopefully we should be able to get a retrenchment package that makes it attractive for them to able to restart their lives, and with that package they can actually go and engage themselves in some productive activity like businesses," he said.

Economic pressures

[ image: Civil servants are starting to feel the heat in Nairobi]
Civil servants are starting to feel the heat in Nairobi
Mr Okemo said that curbing government expenditure and balancing the budget in the short term was essential if Kenya were to maintain low interest rates and regain a more competitive cost structure for the economy.

And he said the normalising of relations with international donors was vital in order to boost local and foreign investor confidence.

He also announced plans for better accounting procedures and an improved independent anti-corruption authority.

The IMF has severely restricted aid to Kenya because of corruption and mismanagement.

Talks on a stalled IMF loan package are due to take place in Washington in October.

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