Is there a correlation between civil servants pay raise and this year?s presidential election in Kenya? A new study says President Mwai Kibaki may be gaining an early lead over his opponents by awarding pay increases to civil servants. The study was conducted by the Nairobi-based Institute of Policy Analysis and Research. Jacob Omolo is assistant research fellow for the institute.

Omolo said there is a strong relationship between election years and civil servants pay increases in Kenya.

?My analysis used time series data from the period 1970 up to 2005, and that particular trend gave a close relationship between the wage increases and the election cycle. When I talked about the election cycle, I was considering the year before the election, the year of the election, and the year after the election. Those pay periods got quite a good relationship between wage increases and the cycle,? he said.

Omolo said the power of the purse is not unique to current President Kibaki alone.

?We are not just talking about the present government. We are even talking about the previous governments,? Omolo said.

He rejected suggestion by some that the study?s findings may be politically motivated considering that this is an election year in Kenya.

?In fact our institute is a non-partisan policy analysis institute, and whenever we do our work, we try as much as possible to be objective. In any case, the study that I was doing was not really targeting government. I was just trying to find a way through which we can objectively determine the wages within the civil service. And that?s why in my recommendation I talked about the issue by using well-established economic parameters,? he said.

Omolo said his study found that successive Kenyan governments have used big salary increases to support their stay in power.

He also said the election year wage increases have tended to cut across most sectors of the Kenyan civil service, including teachers, professors and even members of the Kenyan parliament.