February 28 2020 was the deadline for submission of the County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) to County Assemblies across the country as required by law. The County Assemblies have until March 15 to consider and approve the document once public participation has been concluded.
RoGGKenya has compiled this article to help you report comprehensively about the topic. From this document, you will know what to look out for, when to look for it and who to talk to.
Steps to be followed
The CFSP once tabled will be committed to the relevant committees in the County Assemblies. The committees will then subject the paper to public participation before its final approval by the County Assembly.
Journalists are encouraged to find out when the public participation will be held in different counties. Further investigate if the document is accessible to the general public.
Find out from the relevant officers both at the County Assembly and County Executive if the CFSP is ready for public scrutiny. Inquire from the Speakers’ of County Assemblies whether the fiscal paper has been tabled for debate and subsequent approval within the set timeliness.
The CFSP gives a review of the performance of the previous financial year and gives the indicative ceilings for the coming financial year. Departments highlight their allocations and how the same is being spent.
This document is key in budgeting as it allocates moneys to various departments in line with projections on revenue allocation and what will be allocated from the national government.
A look at the websites of most counties reveal that the document is never published online- though it is required the law.
Journalists especially in counties have to get the draft documents on time and analyze the same in order to inform the public on the areas the Governor and his team want to focus on in the coming financial year.
A scrutiny of the documents will give the journalists information on the allocations per sector. Find out which sectors have been allocated more money and why. Compare the proposed allocations to the actual allocations for this financial year. Find out the reasons for the increase or reduction in allocation. Check the actual implementation of the projects by looking at the quarterly review reports.
The document will also give projections on how much revenue the County will have. Find out the amount that will be collected locally. Compare the figures with this year’s allocation. If there is a decrease in the projected revenue find out why. Some counties underestimate their local revenue targets so that at the end of the year, the collections are said to have surpassed what was set. Check the trend in revenue collection since the inception of devolution, it is expected to form an upward trend.
There are four critical aspects of the CFSP that journalists ought to pay attention to.
The first one is the performance section which provides timely information on the entire expenditure and revenue collection.
Performance is usually based on each sector. Information spending, revenue collection is usually found in this section.
The second key aspect is projections. The projections section highlights the overall revenue and expenditure expected for the coming financial year (2020/2021). It should also indicate any shortfalls expected in the budget.
It also gives projections on supplementary revenue expected from donor funding, grants, and internal or external borrowing in the next budget year.
The projections section also covers expected recurrent expenditure, planned development expenditure and debt repayment. This information is key when planning for income against expenditure.
Priorities of the counties
Priorities are arrived at after the needs across sectors have been analyzed,. Each sector usually makes available what it requires. It’s from this list of requirements that priorities are selected.
The departments come up with flagship projects that have high impact across the County and propose them to receive higher allocations. The governor can also choose priority areas in his manifesto. The same will be spread across departments.
The final area of focus is the ceilings. Priorities once set will to a great extent influence the ceilings for various sectors. Sectors ceilings is the money allocated to fund all operations in the sector. Figures in the final budget should not exceed the ceilings set.
A journalist should be able to identify the areas getting the highest and the lowest allocations from this section.
The CFSP is important because, once these sector ceilings are set, they are final.
CLICK HERE to read more about the County Budget Process.
By Erick Nakitare