OGI Kenya

Open Governance

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.

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