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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 

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. 

Rationale of Participatory Budgeting (PB)

According to the World Bank  Research on PB, different counties in Kenya have tried and tested PB programs and have positively impacted the community hence progressing towards sustainable development. From government accountability to equitable governance, PB has proven to progressively advance sustainable development once done in the right circumstances.

John Maritim, the Director Economic Planning in Elgeyo Marakwet  county, notes there are several factors to explain the increase in own source revenue including an expanded tax-base. However, following the enactment and operationalization of the Elgeyo Marakwet County Equitable Development Act (EDA) in 2015 which required that citizens allocate a portion of the budget to their preferred projects through participatory process,  citizens ownership of the participatory process and the resulting projects led to an increase in citizen  trust in government and subsequently, greater willingness to pay  taxes and generally, support the government development agenda.  While there is no empirical evidence to support this argument,  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 one of classic examples of how Participatory Budgeting and other participatory institutions positively impact governance systems, society and can lead to inclusive governance. A case of Porto Alegre in Brazil supports this conclusion. 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. As a result of citizens directly allocating a portion of the budget, the process increased citizen participation and empowered them to make decisions increased the support for government tax agenda

Locally, at a recent webinar held by the Coalition of Participatory Governance which brought together lead researchers and governance practitioners and civil society to share their experiences and lessons learnt on PB , there was a general agreement hat PB holds a great  potential to impact revenue when deliberately designed and executed to bring citizens into the decision-making. 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 and subsequently, tend to take more active roles in the implementation of public projects especially 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 civil oversight is embedded in the participatory process in which citizens are involved in  monitoring and evaluation of project implementation the government acts more accountable and transparent in the management of these projects including procurement and award of contracts as well as payments of such contracts. Hence,there is an increase in 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 where Participatory Budgeting was adopted, citizens were part and parcel of the budgeting process and this led to government transparency on  public projects implementation. According to the theWorld Bank Report, Makueni County Governor, Kivutha Kibwana reported that the citizens played an oversight role and no money could be released  without proper inspection by citizens on the completed projects  and whether the same projects had been properly implemented.

In addition,when citizens are involved in the budget process planning , they get to understand the roles and responsibilities of different arms of the government. When citizens are involved in the decision-making process of participatory budgeting, they become more empowered to know the roles of different arms of the government in development.Nonetheless, it helps citizens understand the limitations of government for example,an MCA oversight and failure to supply water to their localities.

In conclusion,  the Participatory Budgeting process ensures all the marginalized groups in the society are included and have a voice in the decision making process of public budget expenditure. Therefore , adaptation of PB in all counties is paramount to ensure a just and equitable governance.

Written by Jane Mumo

Communications Specialist

The Journey from Plan to Budget_Role of Program-Based Budgeting (PBB)

This brief reviews Elgeyo Marakwet County Annual Development Plan (ADP) 2020/21. It looks at the process from which the document was developed and assess decisions taken by both arms of government regarding the content.

Traditionally, the county has adopted a blank-slate approach in getting communities to input into the budget decision making that generated a list of projects in August every year, two months after approval of another budget in June. In other words, citizens were being asked to identify projects for the coming year even before the implementation of the present financial year’s projects commenced. This approach also meant that budget programs, targets and performance indicators were designed on the basis of projects selected as opposed to such processes responding to broader policy goals.

In an attempt to streamline the budget processes, the executive submitted a program-based budget format ADP 2020/21 – with no projects this time. Assembly rejected the document on that basis that it did not contain projects. In summary, three things stand out from the review.

  1. Executive’s shift to begin the budget processes with program design, target and indicator setting presents a remarkable turning point resulting out of experience. Identification of projects is a budgeting stage function in the budget cycle that preceding the setting of program targets and indicators, thus, inverts the planning and budgeting processes to begin with budgeting. Ideally, good planning processes identify broad development and service delivery goals, set targets to be achieved over the year and identifying indicators to measure progress then follow the identification of suitable projects and interventions to achieve the set targets.
  2. Apparent misconceived definition of development in Kenya to imply capital projects by most leaders and citizens weaken the value of Program-Based Budgeting (PBB) and negatively affects the county’s planning and budgeting. In order to develop and deliver services sustainably, the county planning and budgeting must follow from a well-designed process.
  3. Inadequate or lack of shared understanding of the value of good planning and budgeting processes between assembly, executive and communities. Even as the executive attempted to shift and streamline the budgeting processes, there is very little evidence that both arms of government understand the shift, particularly the application of Program-Based Budgeting (PBB) approach and/or that executive has sufficiently caused the assembly and other stakeholders to understand its shift in approach. Read more>>>

 

 

 

 

Why youth-friendliness of healthcare delivery systems could enhance fight against cancer in Kenya

Over the past few years, Kenyans have engaged in an emotional debate over whether cancer should be pronounced a national disaster. Rarely this debate is structured enough to deliberate on the root causes of cancer and explore innovative ways to save Kenyans and the World from losses of loved ones and leaders at prime age of leadership. Cancer and other chronic diseases are normally diagnosed at middle age, yet, the debate rarely consider young people as a stakeholder in efforts to trace the menace to its root causes.

70% of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are linked to habits, or risk behaviors that start at adolescence and go on throughout adult life. Perceived stigma, judgement and lack of privacy in healthcare delivery systems prevent access to healthcare, thus, young people find alternatives in the practice risk behaviors e.g. drug abuse, unsafe sex etc.

Youth-friendliness of healthcare delivery systems has been discussed and recognized globally as one way to address unique needs of young people, yet, policies, economic planning and budgetary programs do not reflect efforts to unpack what friendly healthcare system constitute in Kenya. Even with budgetary programs on SRH and efforts such as Universal Health Care (UHC), access is not guaranteed without addressing negative perceptions and lack of trust in the delivery systems.

In this paper, we discuss current state of access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) by young people in Kenya – reflections on findings from a survey we conducted in July 2019 to collect ideas and experiences of young in regards to access to SRH. Young people rated public health facilities as the least friendly for the access of SRH.

Finally, in effort to win the trust of young people in healthcare delivery systems and broadly, make efforts to free the middle age population in the near future, from the agony of cancer and chronic diseases, we discuss and recommend participatory co-design of an ideal youth friendly healthcare delivery system. On this, we call upon health policy practitioners, advocates of young people’s issues as well as young people in their organizations and individuals to take action.

In summary, we argue that Kenya’s healthcare delivery system is in violation of young people’s social and economic rights – whether by design or otherwise. Even though social and economic rights are guaranteed and anchored in Kenya’s supreme laws and policies, intended and unintended actions of government and facility management have perpetuated inequalities and discrimination against young people. Access full paper here

Nandi Youths Memorandum to the County Assembly Timely & Vital

26th May 2022, Kapsabet Kenya: The Public Finance Management (PFM) Act 2012 provides mechanisms through which County Governments should engage citizens to share what their needs and priorities are when preparing budget documents. This consultation creates a sense of ownership of the projects and services the government delivers to mwananchi. Initially, free, fair, competitive and regular elections were meant to ensure representation of people at the decision-making table, but in today’s Kenya elections despite being free and fair, the representatives elected do not fully represent the needs of the people because of little consultations and unclear manifestos which would otherwise mean the people electing them subscribe to what is highlighted in the manifestos. This is why meaningful and genuine public participation is vital today.

Public participation ensures that county government, civil society, youths, the private sector and the common mwananchi together have a rapport on the local priorities, resources-situation and programs. Their participation ensures there is openness, transparency and accountability in governance and inclusivity in decision making. No man is an island, and money and resources belong to the people. Citizens must be consulted on how these limited resources should be used and youths being the majority in this country and Nandi County as well, must be at the table where these decisions are made.

Open Governance Institute has for many years lobbied for meaningful and genuine public participation decentralized to the lowest level which is wards and villages. We are pleased with the decision by the young people of Nandi and especially the over 120 budget champions who are analyzing the budget, asking latent questions in regards to allocations that matter to them and seeking the county Assembly’s intervention through the memorandum. We have offered them technical support and we will continue to do so in our quest for open governance and also ensure they achieve their aspirations.

While supporting the budget champions to analyze the Nandi County budget estimates for FY 2022/23, the analysis queried six red flags such as inadequate absorption of development budget to the recurrent vote where over the four-year period beginning 2017/18, the county had a budget of Kshs. 32 billion out of which 64% went to recurrent and 36% to development vote absorbing 93% of the allocation to the recurrent vote and only 50% of the development vote. The other query was on unsubstantiated budget changes in salary and operations and maintenance where the cost of Personnel Emoluments (PE) or Salaries increased by 66%, and then, in 2017/18, the County Government spent Ksh. 1.7 billion on O&M then later in 2020/2021 the same O&M allocation was reduced by about a half a billion to Ksh. 1.2 billion.

These and more budget credibility issues that are captured in the memorandum submitted by Budget Champions on 26th May 2022 to the County Assembly give us more reasons why public participation is important for all and especially the youths who are languishing in poverty with no stable sources of income. Some of these unutilized funds could be used to create Youth Agricultural and Business Enterprise Fund for youths as they have indicated in the memo where they can borrow these funds to rear chicken or do other agribusiness activities and then pay later when they sell their products.

In conclusion, in Article 1(2) of the Constitution of Kenya, young people are empowered to exercise their sovereign power directly through public participation and platforms that promote self-governance. Further, the County Governments under section 34 of the County Government Act 2012 are obligated to enhance self-governance for communities in the management of development programs and to ensure the protection and promotion of the interests and rights of minorities and marginalized communities. It is therefore our call to all of us to support these young people of Nandi in seeking their rightful involvement in budgets. The County Assembly of Nandi should consider their submissions and revise the Budget Estimates in their favor.

Nicodemus Muriuki | OGI Communication Specialist