25 April 2014

Kenya: Civil Society Calls for Increased Transparency in Budgeting

CIVIL society groups want the National Treasury to include provisional outcome and progress of budgeted projects over the last two years and their projections when it tables the budgetary estimates for next financial year.

Under Public Finance Management Act, the estimates for each financial year should be tabled in Parliament by April 30. The lobbies argued in Nairobi yesterday that this will enhance fiscal transparency, enabling the public to "access reliable, comprehensive, timely, understandable and comparable information on government fiscal decisions, activities and intentions".

The government adopted the international standard practice of programme-based budgeting this financial year 2013/14 to instill efficiency. The public funds were previously allocated based on line-items which was characterised with intense lobbying.

Led by public policy research company the Institute of Economic Affairs and International Budget Partnerships, the groups further called for detailed breakdown of government programmes in the estimates.

"While programme-based budgeting approach has increased narrative information and provided citizens with some indicators and targets for performance...it has also made it difficult to find spending information about most programmes that ordinary Kenyans care about," senior programme officer at IPB Jason Lakin said.

Some of the information they want restored include details on overall spending on wages and allowances by job groups. Director of Parliamentary Budget Office Phyllis Makau however said the specific budgetary information to be made public and channels to be used will be clear when PFM regulations are gazetted by the Treasury later this year.

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