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More than half of counties had opaque budgets in 2021 – study




Robert Thuo Nyeri County Executive for Finance at Nyeri County Assembly after he tabled a budget of Sh 8.2 Billions for 2021/2022 financial year. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]


More than half of the 47 counties did not share their 2021 budget documents with the public, a new survey shows.

The survey by the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBP Kenya) says the counties contravened the Constitution and the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act that require all counties to publish and publicise budget documents throughout the budget cycle.

Budget documents are supposed to help the public shape county priorities and monitor the implementation of budgets to ensure resources reach those who need them most.

Nyeri, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet have emerged as the counties with the most transparent budgets. They had scores of 72, 71 and 69 per cent, respectively. They were followed by Turkana and Samburu, which scored 67 per cent each.

The County Budget Transparency Survey evaluates the level of budget transparency across all the 47 counties. Scores are based on whether a county had its budget documents publicly available and on the level of information in those documents.

Migori and Isiolo were ranked as counties with the opaquest budgets, scoring zero out of 100 points. The number of counties that scored zero reduced from four in 2020 to two in the latest survey. A county scores a zero when it fails to publish any budget document.

Kirinyaga was the most improved county, scoring 59 per cent, up from zero in 2020.

IBP Kenya lead researcher Kipkorir Biegon said the average transparency score was 35 out of 100 points. However, counties published 42 per cent of budget documents that should be available across all counties, up from 40 per cent in the last survey.

“If all counties had committed to publishing all documents they had published in the previous survey, the average score would have gone up by nine per cent to 44 per cent,” said Mr Biegon.

IBP Kenya country manager Abraham Rugo said the survey assesses whether timely and comprehensive budget information is shared with the public.

“Although transparency in counties’ budgets remains low, we have seen improvement in responsiveness by county governments in providing budget documents to the public,” he said.

Dr Rugo said counties tend to concentrate on providing financial information and leave out non-financial information that is crucial in monitoring services and connecting service delivery to relevant financial information.

“It may be that counties need greater technical assistance on how non-financial information should be provided,” he said.

“By not publishing implementation reports, counties are missing out on an important opportunity to communicate with the public on how and whether spending is reaching its intended targets and any relevant changes in priorities,” said Rugo.

IBP, which runs similar studies at the national level across 120 countries, said that Kenya is one of the first countries where the study is being carried out at the sub-national level.

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