OGI Kenya

Budget Inclusion

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.

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.

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