Several County Assemblies in Kenya are once again on an illegal path with the budget making process.
Already several critical documents that inform the budget making process have delayed in terms of submission, processing and approval in the County Assembly.
Media in the Counties are yet to report on the budgeting delays which are illegal, and they are also yet to question administrators and lawmakers on how they are planning address the impeding challenges and illegalities.
County Fiscal Strategy Paper weeks late
A spot check by RoGG Kenya showed that the counties of Bungoma, Nairobi, Kakamega, Vihiga and Siaya are yet to approve the County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP), a document that was supposed to have been approved by the 28th of February as dictated by the budget circle released by the National treasury. Refer to our RoGG Kenya page on the budget cycle).
In Bungoma, public participation on the document is scheduled to begin on 19th March after it was tabled in the County Assembly on March 12 several days after the February 28th deadline, in Siaya and Kakamega, public participation on the document will be done from Monday this week.
In Vihiga, MCAs on Tuesday deferred debate on the bill Thursday following a disagreement on the proposals from the County Executive and the County Assembly Budget Committee.
In Nairobi, the CFSP is yet to reach the Assembly. The situation could be the same or worse in other counties. (Journalists can find out the status of the CFSP in their respective counties).
Public Participation was stalled
Other County Assemblies have advertised in the dailies for public participation on the CFSP which, once complete, the views gathered will be compiled and included in the final report for consideration by the county assemblies.
Leaders from the abovementioned assemblies blamed the County Executive Committee members for Finance for delays in formulation and submission of the same to the county assemblies.
County Assemblies quietly waiting for the Executive
The assembly leaders said they can only process the CFSP after it has been received after formulation by the county executive.
“Ours is to consider the proposals. The formulation is done by the county executive under the Department of Finance. They are the ones sleeping on the job,” said Hon. Ali Machani, a former Budget Committee chairman for Bungoma County Assembly.
Our inquiries from the County Executive Committee on what necessitated the delay in the formulation and the possible effect on entire budget cycle went unanswered.
The County Assemblies Committees on Budget which are supposed to oversight the operations of the executive and ensure the timeliness are adhered to have not raised the red flag- at least not in writing despite the grave illegalities.
How the Budget Process is affected
If nothing is immediately done to expedite the process, the mess could extend to the general budget making.
The passage of the CFSP goes through a rigorous process that involves conducting public participation and determining which sectors should receive higher allocations in terms of ceilings.
The delay in the approval of the CFSP will greatly affect the preparations of the budget estimates. It’s the CFSP that sets ceilings for various sectors in the county before programmes are prioritized.
The same mess was witnessed in the run up to the 2017 elections where county assemblies and the national parliament hurriedly approved budgets without proper scrutiny ahead of the elections.
By Erick Nakitare.