Kwale scores ‘A’ as Machakos ranks ‘most improved’ in budget openness

Governor of Kwale County Fatuma Mohamed Achani before the Senate County Public Investment Committee at Parliament buildings Nairobi on Monday, December 4, 2023.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

Kwale, Makueni, Bungoma and Machakos have the most transparent and comprehensive budgets, a new report ranking transparency, public participation, project prioritisation, and details on cost and completion time, shows. 

The County Budget Transparency Survey (CBTS) 2023 conducted by International Budget Partnership (IBP) Kenya indicates that Kwale County scored 81 points out of a possible 100. Makueni came second with 80, while Bungoma and Machakos Counties came third and fourth with 78 and 74 points, respectively.

The annual survey, released on May 24, assesses the availability of 11 key budget documents including the County Integrated Development Plan, Annual Development Plan, Approved Program-Based Budget and County Quarterly Implementation Report. 

The CBTS survey evaluates the information contained in key budget documents on revenue, expenditure, feedback on public participation, priority narratives, justifications, and capital project details, in order to assign each county a transparency index based on the information it has made available to the public.

The CBTS 2023 report shows that Kwale County published all 11 key budget documents and scored 81 out of 100 points.

This was an improvement from 74 out of 100 points in CBTS 2022. It also notes that Kwale set a precedent by being the first county to score the top ‘A’ performance category. The CBTS evaluates whether counties give details on their engagement with the public during the formulation and approval of budget decisions.

This information may include who was involved, input from the public and impact of that input on the final budget decisions. The report noted that Kwale demonstrated good practice on the level of information it discloses for public participation.

The IBP noted that the average transparency index for counties had significantly gained to 56 points in 2023, up from 41 in 2022, with 38 counties posting improvement. A total of 13 counties had also published all the 11 key budget documents, while 25 had published all the required quarterly budget implementation reports compared to 8 in CBTS 2022.

Among the Most Improved Counties was Machakos, which emerged fourth in the survey and had published all 11 key documents. Machakos scored 74 out of 100 points in CBTS 2023 as compared to 47 in CBTS 2022 and 33 points in CBTS 2021.

Machakos County Governor Wavinya Ndeti said the county was on the right trajectory in maintaining fiscal discipline and accountability through proper management of the finance and revenue docket.

The worst-performing devolved units were Uasin Gishu with 25 points, Homa Bay (25), Embu (22) and Trans-Nzoia (20).

To ensure transparency, equity and accountability in budgeting, the IBP has seeded national budget cafes in 36 counties, trained and built a network of 70 budget facilitators and 800 budget champions across the country.

The organisation has also created four regional budget hubs covering 28 counties.