Governors on the spot for ignoring public participation in budget making

Thursday December 3 2015

Council of Governors chairman and Meru Governor Peter Munya on August 15, 2015.  Governors and their deputies have been put on the spot for ignoring public participation in budget making process. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Council of Governors chairman and Meru Governor Peter Munya on August 15, 2015. Governors and their deputies have been put on the spot for ignoring public participation in budget making process. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MORAA OBIRIA
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Governors and their deputies have been put on the spot for ignoring public participation in budget making process.

The International Budget Partnership (IBP) says majority of the county bosses are reluctant to involve the public in the process of determining county budgeting priorities, often resulting in ineffective planning for the devolved funds.

The conclusion was derived from a study that was carried out by IBP.

The study says that despite having established County Budget and Economic Forums (CBEF), Governors and their deputies have not been keen to make effective use of them.

A report by the budget monitoring agency accuses the county bosses of lacking interest in involving locals in the process and that the county budget forums have ended up becoming a rubber stamp, only reflecting what the county administration wants.

CBEF’s which are headed by the county executives, were created to collect views from the public and have them integrated in the budget.

Across the 47 counties, queries have been raised over public expenditure with reviews on budget implementation from the offices of the Controller of Budget and Auditor General, indicating potential misuse of the financial resources.

AFFECTS ENTHUSIASM

Mr Jason Lakin, a budget expert with IBP, said the county leadership needs to engage the public proactively in the budget making process for any successful development to happen.

“Clever executives should themselves seek periodic feedback from the community on project implementation to ensure effectiveness,” said Mr Lakin.

According to the IBP report, this attitude by the executive ‘affects the enthusiasm of other state members.’

“Consequently, the role of non-state members, and of the CBEF in general, is reduced to a statutory requirement,’ it states.

“This limits the ability of non-state members to engage with, and make meaningful inputs to the budget making process. Public participation is turned into a rubber stamp activity,” it further reads.

Nakuru is among the counties which has been engaging the locals in the budget making process through public fora held in 55 wards.

However according to the Controller of Budget’s report of 2014/15, budget implementation, the county spent the least in development among the 47 counties.

It spent only Sh800 million on development out of the Sh7 billion disbursed during the financial year.

According to Mr Lakin, implementation of the budgets cannot be effective without the involvement of the public from the beginning of the process.

“An effectively implemented budget depends on whether the locals were involved in the budget formulation process and selection of priorities,” he noted.

He further said: “If not, and if the budgeted expenditure is not in line with the needs of the county’s residents, then it is not likely to mean much if it is effectively implemented.”

The survey conducted in September 2015 in the counties of Kericho, Kisumu, Kwale, and Taita Taveta, which were found to have active CBEF, showed that some representatives and the public had little knowledge on the budget thus affecting their level of contribution.