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TRANSPARENCY

Experts fault budget-making process

Counties notorious with ‘hiding’ documents

In Summary

•Surveys done in the last five years have shown that only 32 per cent of the expected total documents were published.

•There have been cash flow challenges that have left marginilised people in counties with both poor services and inequitable share of resources.

A Nairobi resident at Charter Hall during a public participation forum
GET MY POINT? A Nairobi resident at Charter Hall during a public participation forum
Image: FILE

Key budget making documents are not been provided to citizens as part of the required public participation in budget making, according to a survey by a budget lobby group.

Counties are the main culprits in hiding budget documents according to the survey the International Budget Partnership (IBP) Kenya, which shows they do not publish all budget documents as required by law.

Surveys done in the last five years show that only 32 per cent of the expected total documents were published. Some counties uploaded their documents only to remove them later, hence not available for assessment.

 

Counties are required to upload budget-related documents every quarter, such as Approved Program Based Budget, Citizen Budget (Enacted Budget), Annual Development Plan (ADP) and County Budget Review and Outlook Paper (CBROP).

Others are Quarterly Budget Implementation Report and Finance Act.

“For the public to understand the decisions being made by governments, and justifications for different priorities funded in county budgets, citizens need access to budget information,” IBP country director Abraham Rugo said yesterday.

There is however notable improvement in provision of budget documents by some counties’ websites such as the County Budget Review and Outlook Papers among others.

However, the experts are still questioning the quality of information provided in these documents.

“Do counties give sufficient information to help the public understand decisions being made on the resources they spend through their budgets?” Rugo posed.

This is contrary to good practices, which would see all documents stay online for future references.

 

The IBP sentiments come as both the national government and counties kick off 2021/22 budget processes.

National Treasury, led by CS Ukur Yatani is tomorrow expected to launch the budget preparation process for financial year 2021/22 and the medium-term.

A number of counties have also issued guidelines on their medium-term expenditure framework for 2021/22 and beyond, setting the platform for next financial year’s financial planning.

For instance, Turkana County has asked all accounting officers to share standard budget formats in which information and documents relating to the budget are captured and reported.

According to Article 201 of the Constitution- principles of public finance, public participation remains one of the key principles underpinning budget preparation process.

A budget document is considered publicly available when citizens can access and obtain it free of charge, in the right timeframes provided by the public finance management laws and its regulations, and not at the discretion of any government official.

According to the experts, hard copies of budget documents that are available at county offices fall short of required standards.

Meanwhile, experts at the IBP have come up with an improved survey tool that will measure how transparency counties are through information published in their budget documents.

The survey is expected to be launched this Friday during a nationwide consultative forum involving all counties.

IBPK has partnered with more than 20 county-based budget experts in reviewing budget processes and availability of documents to the public.

The new comprehensive survey has two broad steps, with the first being a survey on the availability of key budget documents while the second component will evaluate the type of information in each of those documents.

“Counties will hence be forced to fully embrace the use of digital options to avail all documents,” Rugo noted.

The entity has called for greater transparency; accountability, participation, and equity in how public finances are allocated, implemented, and monitored.

According to IBPK, constitutional reforms in the country are yet to be fully realised and as a result, there have been cash flow challenges that have left marginalised people in counties with both poor services and inequitable share of resources.