OGI Kenya

Let’s talks about participation and tax revenues

Celebrations in 2022

Rapidly changing global context took a new meaning over the past years, hampering the progress of global literary efforts. In the aftermath of the pandemic, nearly 24 million learners might never return to formal education, out of which, 11 million are projected to be girls and young women. To ensure no one is left behind, we need to enrich and transform the existing learning spaces through an integrated approach and enable literacy learning in the perspective of lifelong learning.

This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide under the theme, Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces and will be an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all.

Budget Making Process is actually, not a preserve of County Government Officials

Albert Bwambok, Budget Champion, Nandi County.

Until recently, I have, in the past, presumed that the budget and the budget making process was a preserved role of the county government officials. I had a little knowledge that a young person like myself had a constitutional right to participate in the process of budget making and also secure allocation of the budget to programs and projects that benefit the youth. My participation in an inclusive budget campaign facilitated by the OGI changed my perception. I came to realize that I was ignorant in matters of the budget and budget process, albeit being an economist graduate. The training on public finance and governance introduced me to elements of economics that had not interacted with in my studies, thus, the training was timely for my personal development and an eye-opener of my needed contribution to shape the budget to address both the social and economic need of the youth. I learnt about teamwork and commitment, analysis of county budgets and related economic documents, as well as the importance of budget data for informed participation. Overall, the training was a golden opportunity to learn on my constitutional right and responsibility. I am now equipped to enlighten other young people. And collectively, we can confidently and respectfully criticize our county government to improve on delivery of public services and equitable development to all citizens regardless of age, gender and region. As an economist, I killed two birds with one stone in my participation in the campaign..

I’m Now Confident I Can Cause Change in My Community

Brian Too, Budget Champion, Nandi County

When I and other youth leaders in Nandi County started the citizen campaign in 2022, I thought it was going to be the most difficult task. This is because of the perennial marginalization and exclusion from mainstream decision-making in the county, especially the budget making process, compounded with unmet promises and commitments made by our political leaders. 

Because of this, I was less confident that the County Assembly would give a memorandum that we submitted a chance based on existing perception that governments do not involve the youth in the decisions they make. To my surprise, the County Assembly responded to our memo which contained seven proposals and several other budget credibility issues we had asked them to consider.

The County Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee invited our leadership to a committee meeting at the assembly committee room, where we made oral presentation of the memo and its content. This gave us an opportunity and necessary audience to pitch our ideas and proposals. Subsequently, the committee, in its budget approval report, made concrete recommendations to the executive arm of the county government which included directives to the Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Finance and Economic planning to ensure that our proposals are included in the next County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).

As a result, my confidence and my perception of government openness and responsiveness has changed. I also have a better understanding of my roles and responsibilities, as citizen, in shaping government decisions to address the needs of the youth.

This new-found belief has also increased my confidence in articulating matters of budgeting because the submission served as a reference point that it is possible to cause change and co-create impact in my community.

I am now encouraged and confident that I can participate in similar advocacy campaigns to keep the county officials on their toes and hold them accountable for their decisions by providing evidence-backed feedback.

Participatory Budgeting Webinar

Participatory Budgeting (PB) programs are innovative policymaking processes. Citizens are directly involved in making policy decisions. Forums are held throughout the year so that citizens have the opportunity to allocate resources, prioritize broad social policies, and monitor public spending. These programs are designed incorporate citizens into the policymaking process, spur administrative reform, and distribute public resources to low-income neighborhoods. Social and political exclusion is challenged as low income and traditionally excluded political actors are given the opportunity to make policy decisions. Governments and citizens initiate these programs to (i) promote public learning and active citizenship, (ii) achieve social justice through improved policies and
resources allocation, and (iii) reform the administrative apparatus.

The Coalition of Governance held the first webinar to discuss on the impacts of Participatory Budgeting on County Own Source Revenues. The webinar brought together Government staff and officials responsible for managing revenue collection, administration of laws and policies governing revenue management and participatory programs; CSO that are are supporting or advocating for more meaningful and effective participatory governance; INGOs supporting governance as well as researchers with a keen interest on the impacts of public participation in Kenya. Its main aim being to enlighten participants on how existence and the effectiveness of participatory institutions are able to increase tax revenue and meet their targets; key impacts participatory budgeting on evidence-based research as well as know the correlation between public participation and increase in tax revenues.

Among the key panelists included :

  • Dr. Michael Touchton, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Miami (United States)
  • John Maritim, Director of Economic Planning and Budgeting and OGP Point of Contact, Elgeyo Marakwet County Government
  • John Kinuthia, Senior Program Officer, IBP Kenya
  • Chebbet Mungo, PB practitioner, West Pokot
  • Annette Omollo, Social Development Specialist, World Bank, Kenya 

Mainstream print and digital media

Mainstream print and digital media are ordinarily considered the main source for citizens’ updates and information – from current global, national, and local affairs; political discourses, and; relevant
emerging issues. Kenya’s media has been granted a substantive amount of freedom through the constitution of 2010 to perform this role. While media has substantially covered public finance and governance-related matters, this……

Communication Consultant Needed at OGI

Open Governance Institute (OGI) requires a communication consultant interested in working on our Communication assignment for the NED project in Nandi County.

Interested consultancy firms/companies should submit their proposal (both technical and financial) including current CV(s). The proposal should briefly describe how the consultancy firm/company intends to undertake this assignment. Applicants should also explain how their professional experience matches the skills and qualifications listed.

All proposals must be submitted in soft copy to info@opengovinstitute.org with the subject line Communication Consultancy – by the 20th of June 2022 at 5 p.m. (East Africa Time).

The purpose, scope and requirements of the task are explained in this TOR.

Download the Terms of Reference (TOR)

Budget Inclusion

The Kenyan government’s devolved system of governance was adopted to foster self-governance by empowering and facilitating communities to participate in their development planning and budgeting and other decisions that affect their lives.   Although public involvement is widely practised by county governments, public budgets are inadequate in addressing community needs, especially for special interest groups such as youths. Partially, this is because the participatory structure is limited in access and meaningfulness for young people and other groups to shape the budget to align with their needs. Young people view these inadequacies as injustice. 

 

To address the injustice, a group of over 120 passionate young people from Nandi endeavored to change the status quo. With the technical support of the Open Governance Institute (OGI), these young people drafted and submitted a memorandum containing Alternative Budget Proposals for consideration by their elected representatives in the county assembly. The contained proposals aim to address among others, the social and economic needs of young people in Nandi County, foster transparency and accountability and strengthen the participation of citizens in matters of interest to them.

 

Throughout the show, Nandi Budget Champions will break down the submission, explain its goals and discuss remedies and available avenues for seeking justice if the County Assembly and the County Executive do not consider the proposals.

Webinar: Strengthening Accountability and Transparency through Public Audits

Transparency and Accountability (TA) are embedded in Kenya’s Public Finance Management (PFM) systems through democratic and participatory governance institutions and processes. The Public Audit process is a constitutional mandate that is designed to strengthen Accountability and Transparency in the management of public resources.

While discharging the public audit mandate, the Office of the Auditor- General (OAG) creates a cross-functional partnership that strengthens the oversight and accountability mechanisms embedded in the management of public finances. The constitution requires, from the Auditor-General, a confirmation to the legislature and citizens, that public funds allocated to the audited public entities be applied efficiently and lawfully and that there exists effective internal controls and risk management systems.

Therefore, Audit Reports generate enormous amounts of evidence, data, information and new knowledge that if utilized, advance the realization of better outcomes from the application of public resources due to increased efficiency and effectiveness of governance systems and processes. The audit process identifies instances of irregular application of public resources and occasions of failure by public entities to provide evidential documentation to support expenditure incurred while in some cases, unearths existence of stalled or incomplete public projects where public resources have been used undeservedly.

In 2021, the Open Governance Institute (OGI) through the support of the Ford Foundation and in collaboration with The Youth Cafe, Peopled Powered and the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK) assessed the audit performance of 11 county governments for the financial years 2017/18 and  2018/19. The assessment reviewed the improvement in Audit Opinions received by the County Governments for the two years under review while the Basis for Audit Opinions, the Auditor’s report on Effectiveness and Lawfulness in the  application of public funds and Effectiveness of Internal Controls, Risk Management and  Governance were reviewed for 2018/19.

On Thursday, 24th March, OGI will host an online webinar via zoom inviting partners, all stakeholders and citizens. We will Present findings from an assessment of 11 county executives and 11 county assemblies, including the assessment framework, discuss strengths and weaknesses of the audit reports, and gaps in the accountability ecosystem in Kenya then together generate a way forward. There will be panelists from The Office-of-Auditor-General, Senate and other key stakeholders who interact with the county Auditor-General reports to share feedback, take notes and respond to the questions.

There will be interesting and critical findings shared from the assessment report and amazing conversations that anyone interested in prosperity of Kenya and success of devolution should be part of. Join the conversation by registering for this webinar and let’s together step up in efforts of enhancing transparency and accountability in our counties.

Rationale of Participatory Budgeting

According to the World Bank Research on PB in Kenya, different counties implement a varied models of participatory approaches including Participatory Budget (PB) programs. Overall, more successfully designed and executed participatory processes have positively impacted the outcomes of governance systems and processes. From government accountability to equitable distribution of resources, services, and public goods, PB and other participatory processes in general have demonstrated  a progressive advancement of sustainable development once done in the right circumstances.

John Maritim, the Director of Economic Planning in Elgeyo Marakwet county, notes that there are several factors to explain the increase in Own-Source Revenue including an expanded taxbase. However, following the enactment and operationalization of the Elgeyo Marakwet County Equitable Development Act (EDA) in 2015 which requires citizens to  allocate a portion of the budget to their preferred projects through a participatory process led to an increase in citizen trust in government and subsequently, greater willingness to pay taxes. While there is no empirical evidence to support this argument in Kenyan context,  there is general agreement that the adoption of participatory approaches that empower citizens to make decisions has a fundamental direct or indirect effect in increasing tax revenue in the county.

The case of Elgeyo Marakwet is a classic example of how well structured public engagement positively impacts governance systems and can lead to inclusive governance as supported by experience from Porto Alegre in Brazil. In 1989, Participatory Budgeting was first adopted in Brazil in which citizens were accorded opportunities to allocate a portion of the government budget in efforts to shift priorities to better support the least developed parts of the city e.g. improved infrastructure which citizens direct funds. As a result, citizen participation increased quantitatively and qualitatively while citizens  were empowered to make decisions.  This, eventually , increased the support for the government tax agenda

Locally, at a recent webinar held by OGI on behalf of the Coalition of Participatory Governance (CPG) which brought together leading researchers and governance practitioners and civil societies to share their experiences and lessons learned on PB, there was a general agreement that PB holds a great potential to impact revenue collection and growth when deliberately designed and executed to bring citizens’ voices into the decision-making and provide real opportunities for those voices to shape the outcomes of the decisions made. Several benefits can accrue from the adoption, a well-designed and implemented PB, and public engagement in general. 

First, a well-designed participatory structure enhances inclusion and equity which in turn stimulates a sense of co-ownership of a government development agenda. When citizens deliberate together and build consensus they tend to take more active roles in the implementation of public projects. Moreso, when these projects directly identify with their needs including possible co-financing in some cases through community contributions as well as willful payment of taxes.  

Secondly, when civilian oversight is embedded in the participatory process in which citizens are involved in the monitoring and evaluation of projects implementation, and the government acts more accountable and transparent in the management of these projects, including the process of procurement and award of public contracts as well as payments of such contracts,  there is an increase in public trust that the government is managing their taxes well and are more willing to pay. The perception of corruption and fears of misappropriation of tax revenues is demotivation to pay taxes. 

For instance, in Makueni County the adoption of PB in the planning and budgeting process and also implementation of Open Contracting (OC), the county government was perceived to be more open and transparent. According to a World Bank Report, Makueni County Governor, Kivutha Kibwana reported that the citizens played an oversight role and no money could be incurred from public projects without proper inspection by citizens to ensure payments were only made for completed projects.

Lastly, county governments may consider targeted approaches and strategies to receive relevant and quality input and feedback on the decisions they intend to take. For example, to know whether a land rate charge is reasonable, a participatory approach could be designed to target land rate-payers relative to a general approach in which everyone participated. An assessment done by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) on revenue administration frameworks in counties show that targeted participatory approaches have been experimented in Tana River, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, and Samburu Counties. There is a need to document how successful these targeted approaches are and how to scale them up and across. 

In conclusion,  there are varied ways to meaningfully involve citizens in decision-making. A well-designed participatory process cultivates shared ownership of the outcomes of the decision-making process between citizens and leaders which in turn enhances public trust, tax morale and reciprocity. 

World Bank Research on PB in Kenya

According to the World Bank Research on PB in Kenya, different counties implement a varied models of participatory approaches including Participatory Budget (PB) programs. Overall, more successfully designed and executed participatory processes have positively impacted the outcomes of governance systems and processes. From government accountability to equitable distribution of resources, services, and public goods, PB and other participatory processes in general have demonstrated a progressive advancement of sustainable development once done in the right circumstances.

John Maritim, the Director of Economic Planning in Elgeyo Marakwet county, notes that there are several factors to explain the increase in Own-Source Revenue including an expanded taxbase. However, following the enactment and operationalization of the Elgeyo Marakwet County Equitable Development Act (EDA) in 2015 which requires citizens to  allocate a portion of the budget to their preferred projects through a participatory process led to an increase in citizen trust in government and subsequently, greater willingness to pay taxes. While there is no empirical evidence to support this argument in Kenyan context,  there is general agreement that the adoption of participatory approaches that empower citizens to make decisions has a fundamental direct or indirect effect in increasing tax revenue in the county.

The case of Elgeyo Marakwet is a classic example of how well structured public engagement positively impacts governance systems and can lead to inclusive governance as supported by experience from Porto Alegre in Brazil. In 1989, Participatory Budgeting was first adopted in Brazil in which citizens were accorded opportunities to allocate a portion of the government budget in efforts to shift priorities to better support the least developed parts of the city e.g. improved infrastructure which citizens direct funds. As a result, citizen participation increased quantitatively and qualitatively while citizens  were empowered to make decisions.  This, eventually , increased the support for the government tax agenda

Locally, at a recent webinar held by OGI on behalf of the Coalition of Participatory Governance (CPG) which brought together leading researchers and governance practitioners and civil societies to share their experiences and lessons learned on PB, there was a general agreement that PB holds a great potential to impact revenue collection and growth when deliberately designed and executed to bring citizens’ voices into the decision-making and provide real opportunities for those voices to shape the outcomes of the decisions made. Several benefits can accrue from the adoption, a well-designed and implemented PB, and public engagement in general. 

First, a well-designed participatory structure enhances inclusion and equity which in turn stimulates a sense of co-ownership of a government development agenda. When citizens deliberate together and build consensus they tend to take more active roles in the implementation of public projects. Moreso, when these projects directly identify with their needs including possible co-financing in some cases through community contributions as well as willful payment of taxes.  

Secondly, when civilian oversight is embedded in the participatory process in which citizens are involved in the monitoring and evaluation of projects implementation, and the government acts more accountable and transparent in the management of these projects, including the process of procurement and award of public contracts as well as payments of such contracts,  there is an increase in public trust that the government is managing their taxes well and are more willing to pay. The perception of corruption and fears of misappropriation of tax revenues is demotivation to pay taxes. 

For instance, in Makueni County the adoption of PB in the planning and budgeting process and also implementation of Open Contracting (OC), the county government was perceived to be more open and transparent. According to a World Bank Report, Makueni County Governor, Kivutha Kibwana reported that the citizens played an oversight role and no money could be incurred from public projects without proper inspection by citizens to ensure payments were only made for completed projects.

Lastly, county governments may consider targeted approaches and strategies to receive relevant and quality input and feedback on the decisions they intend to take. For example, to know whether a land rate charge is reasonable, a participatory approach could be designed to target land rate-payers relative to a general approach in which everyone participated. An assessment done by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) on revenue administration frameworks in counties show that targeted participatory approaches have been experimented in Tana River, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, and Samburu Counties. There is a need to document how successful these targeted approaches are and how to scale them up and across. 

In conclusion,  there are varied ways to meaningfully involve citizens in decision-making. A well-designed participatory process cultivates shared ownership of the outcomes of the decision-making process between citizens and leaders which in turn enhances public trust, tax morale and reciprocity.