What you need to know:
- The firm looks at official county government websites to assess the availability of key county budget documents that should have been made available to the public while formulating and implementing the budget each year.
- With regard to the Annual Development Plans, only 25 counties had published the 2018/19 document online, more than half of the devolved units.
Counties have made significant improvements in providing the public with budget information, which has improved their oversight on budget-making process, a report has revealed.
The findings are contained in a report released by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) Kenya which collaborates with civil society groups to analyse, monitor and influence government budget processes.
The report shows the average transparency, determined by the availability of key fiscal and budget-related documents, score this September has increased to 42 percent from 25 percent attained in a similar period last year.
Kitui, Nairobi, Nyeri, and Samburu are the top counties in terms of budget transparency, publishing online five out of the six documents that were assessed.
Isiolo, Kajiado, Kirinyaga, Kisumu, Lamu, Mandera and Migori did not publish any of the six documents under assessment as required by the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.
“While it’s good to celebrate the increase in the total number of documents counties are publishing online, it’s also important to note that only 42 percent of the documents we looked for were available.
“Therefore, there is still a lot that counties need to do to ensure the public has access to all budget documents in order to understand the decisions being made by governments and justifications for different priorities funded in the budget,” the document states.
During the research period, IBP looks at official county government websites to assess the availability of key county budget documents that should have been made available to the public while formulating and implementing the budget each year in accordance with the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act, 2012, Mr John Kinuthia, Lead Research Analyst at IBP, said.
These documents necessary for the formulation of counties’ 2018/19 budgets are the Annual Development Plan (2018/19), County Fiscal Strategy Paper 2018 and County Integrated Development Plan (2018-2022).
Others are County Programme Based Budget 2018/19, County Budget Implementation Report (3rd Quarter 2017/18) and Citizen Budget 2018/19.
“The study was carried out between late July and early September 2018...These key documents should have been released during the formulation of the 2018/19 county budgets between September 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. The third quarter implementation reports reporting on the implementation of the 2017/18 county budgets was also included in the study,” Mr Kinuthia said.
With regard to the Annual Development Plans, which are a main anchor to budgets, only 25 counties had published the 2018/19 document online, more than half of the devolved units.
In terms of the County Fiscal Strategy Papers — which is the most important budget formulation document that sets total budget size, sector ceilings and key priorities, 27 out of 47 counties had published the document, which is higher than the 21 found in September 2017.
With regards to the Budget Estimates which detail programme and item level decisions, 30 counties had published their budget proposals on their websites, twice the number we found in last year’s analysis.
Only Nairobi and Samburu had their Citizens Budget for the Budget Estimates 2018/19 published on their websites showing this particular document, which remains one of the enabling documents for public participation that is not produced by counties.
“After the initial results were shared with counties, the number of documents on county websites went up by 68 percent. Specifically, 21 counties put up documents after the initial results were shared, including 14 counties who did not have any documents available during the initial assessment,” IBP says.
The report raises pertinent issues, that still many counties do not feel moved to adhere to PFMA stipulations and account for how they plan for and execute county spending.
This lack of transparency is likely to facilitate a culture of financial mismanagement and corruption at county level as there are no consequences for poor fiscal performance and reporting.