International Budget Partnership together with the Society for International Development and the Katiba Institute have designated this week as Equity Week. The programme is dedicated to dialogue on sharing of resources at county level, and interrogating whether the process meets the standard of equity and fairness that was envisaged in a system of devolved government. The constitution requires that public expenditure should promote equitable development and forms the basis for the sharing of government revenue between the national and county governments.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation has developed a method for sharing of the resources vertically between the two levels of government and horizontally between the 47 county governments. However, no guideline is given on how the resources should be shared within the counties, neither is the principle of equity defined, leaving each county to determine its own course. This is not an easy task, given that counties are not homogeneous and there is a possibility that allocation may favour some parts of the county over others.
IBP recently did a research across the counties to find out how they are taking into account the principle of equity. In particular it sought to find out whether or not they reveal the geographical distribution of resources within their counties, and if they do, whether or not they explain to the public the criteria they use to make these decisions.
The findings were that while the executive summary or forward of key county documents such as the County Integrated Development Plans and Budget indicates that projects were identified through public participation, details of the participation are often not available. More importantly, the criteria for distribution of the resources are not expressly given. The research was, however, limited by the availability of key resource-sharing documents that ordinarily should be in the public domain for transparency. For instance, only 21 out of 47 counties have their CIDP, ADP and budget estimates readily available on their websites.
IBP has also provided six guiding principles in sharing of resources premised on the widely accepted idea that creating a more equal society may require us to treat people differently depending on their circumstance. Elgeyo Marakwet is highlighted as one of a few counties with a well-developed resource-sharing method in its Equitable Development Act of 2015. The Act distinguishes equality and equity with 60 per cent of the resources shared equally across wards, while 40 per cent is shared equitably taking into account population, poverty, land area, aridity, fiscal responsibility, emergencies and flagship projects.
In order to achieve outcome-based allocation, more attention needs to be put into collection and use of research data; an area that is yet to be prioritised.
Karen Kandie is a financial and risk consultant with First Trident Capital