The budget making process in Kenya follows a strict timeline. At every stage of the process, there are various key events that happen which are newsworthy.
Exclusive stories can be generated at different stages in the budget making process – from formulation, approval, implementation and audit.
For details on the budget cycle, Refer to section 125 of the Public Finance Management Act.
Kenya’s County Budget Calendar
AUGUST 30: County Executive Circular
This is the first major event in the budget calendar. The County Executive Member for Finance must by this date issue a circular to all government departments advising them on how to prepare their budget requests for the year.
SEPTEMBER 1: Annual Development Plan (ADP)
Counties must prepare and table the Annual Development Plan in the County Assembly by this date. The ADP is meant to be the key planning document that guides the budget-making process for the next financial year. It is a one-year extract of the five year County Integrated Development Plan, CIDP which every county must also produce.
The ADP highlights programmes that are to be undertaken in the new financial year besides giving an overview of the performance of sectors during the previous financial year.
OCTOBER 21: County Budget Review and Outlook Paper
After approval by the County Executive Committee, the county Budget Review and Outlook Papers (CBROP) must be tabled in the county assemblies by this date. These document serves three purposes:
(1) reviews the previous year’s budget performance
(2) updates current year economic expectations, and
(3) proposes provisional ceilings for each sector.
After the CBROP provides the provisional ceilings for each sector, the County executive is expected to organize sector hearings. These hearings give sectors an opportunity to discuss and decide on their priorities for the coming year, and to advocate for additional resources from the budget. The public is expected to participate in these discussions and give its views on which sectors should receive more funding and why.
Example: Kisumu CBROP September 2015
FEBRUARY 28. County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP)
The final decision on the total size of the budget and the distribution of funds across each sector is set in the County Fiscal Strategy Paper. The CFSP is tabled on or before February 28 and must be approved by march 15. Most decisions on the budget are made by the County Governments and Assemblies during the preparation and approval of the CFSP. A lot of horse trading and bargaining takes place at this stage.
The County Assemblies during this time, also “punish sectors” that are underperforming or failing to implement their budgets by reducing their allocations.
Many journalistic stories can be acquired at this stage including identifying the priority areas, the biggest losers and gainers and having a sneak preview of the resource envelope that show what the County will take.
March 15. County Assembly decides CFSP with changes
The County Assembly may not be (fully) satisfied with the executives propositions in the CFSP and it may therefore decide to make change. These changes are prepared by the CA’s Budget and Appropriation Committee.
APRIL 30. The Proposed Budget / Budget Estimates
The County budget estimates are tabled on this date by the County executive in the respective County assemblies. This is the detailed budget at program level. At this stage, the total budget and sector distribution should not be changed, but funds may be moved around between programs. Assemblies have two months to make these changes.
MAY: Public hearings.
The County Assembly budget committees will begin to hold public hearings on the budget estimates by this month, which is a legal requirement.
JUNE 30: Approved Budget
End of the financial year. By this date, the county Appropriation Bills should be approved by County assemblies. These Bills authorize the County governments to spend against the budget from July 1.
September 30: Finance Bills Deadline
First, various Bills that regulate revenue collection must be passed. Among them; Parking Management Bills, Property Hire and Lease bills, County Cess Bills and Trade Licensing Bills. With such bills the Counties propose raising old and new taxes. For instance, in 2015 taxes were imposed on grave diggers and private burials. The projected revenue targets and how the monies will be raised from the Finance Bills are part of the debate.
OCTOBER 31: First quarterly Budget Implementation Report
County Executives Committee members are required to publish 1st quarter budget implementation reports and table these in their respective assemblies. Counties must produce these within one month of the end of the quarter.
The other reports are to be produced are as below:
JANUARY 31. Counties publish 2nd quarter implementation report.
APRIL 30. Counties publish 3rd quarter implementation report
JULY 31. Counties publish 4th quarter implementation report
The County Assemblies’ budget implementation reports are to be found in the county assemblies’ hansards.
It is quite fair to say that the Controller of Budget (COB) keeps detailled quarterly budget implementation reports for the individual counties intentionally away from the public. (see our story suggestion). Only old examples can erratically be found on the web. Even the few examples from the first financial year after devolution seem to have been removed from the COB website by August 2016. Only “consolidated” brief reports that cover ALL counties are published here on the COB-Site (ext. Link)
DECEMBER 31: The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) should produce and publish an audit report on the previous financial year within six months of its close (six months after June 30). The Auditor General has missed this deadline by many months in both 2015 and 2016. The County Assemblies Public Accounts committees will scrutinize the PAC reports and give their won recommendations. (more on the timeline of the OAG reports here.
Remember, all related documents are public. Every Kenyan citizen and journalist is entitled to get them.
But the International Budget Partnership keeps reporting that, unfortunately, the level of availability online is very low. (ext.link) So why not team up in the counties and share the soft copies of documents among the journalists once one of the pack gets them?