The CFSP is tabled in the county assembly no later than February 28.The document is approved (with or without amendments) by the 15th of March. The counterpart to the CFSP on the national level is the BPS, Budget Policy Statement.
Why is the County Fiscal Strategy Paper important?
The CFSP answers the following two key questions:
- How big should the total budget be in the next year? This means estimating total revenue, total spending, and, where spending is larger than revenue, the total deficit (also called financing).
- What share of the budget should go to each of the major sectors (such as health, agriculture, education, etc.)? This is also known as “setting the ceilings” for each sector and determines the maximum amount of funds that each sector should receive. This establishes the priorities for the year, allowing certain sectors to grow faster than others.
The CFSP has four key elements, which we refer to as “three Ps and one C.”
- Performance. The first “P” is for information related to budget performance in the previous year and the first six months of the current year. As these documents are produced in February, they contain good data on revenue and expenditure from June to December. Performance data is important for making decisions about what is realistic going forward. This data allows us to ask questions like: are our revenue estimates realistic? If we give more money to the Ministry of Roads, can they actually spend it? the CFSP contain the most up-to-date information on how the government has performed in collecting and spending revenue, and each are useful for determining whether the coming year’s revenue and spending targets are realistic.
- Projections. Informed by the performance data, we can then move on to the second “P” which are the projections of the total budget (revenue, expenditure and deficit) for the coming financial year. While the projections are at a highly aggregate level, they should include broad categories for revenue (major taxes, grants, etc.) and expenditure (recurrent, development, debt repayment, etc.).
- Priorities. The third “P” is for the priorities in the budget. The narrative section on priorities in the BPS should explain the choices made in the coming budget year between different sectors, for example why health is prioritized over education. We can then examine the budgets for each sector to see if the narrative and the numbers match. It should be possible to then link these narrative explanations to the numbers in the ceilings section, which we examine next.
- Ceilings. The “C” is for the ceilings in the budget – the maximum amount of funds going to each sector. The BPS and the CFSP determine the final distribution of funds across sectors. The sector ceilings, and how they are changing over time, are useful for understanding which sectors will be prioritized in the coming year.
Don’t forget, that within two weeks after the CFSP has been tabled in the County Assembly, until March 15, the CA has to comment and propose its changes to the CFSP.
(with kind permission partly taken from this even more detailed pdf file by the International Budget Project: ext. link)