Overview: Documents & Principles of Budgeting

A school visits the County Assembly of Turkana
At the heart of budget decision making: The county assembly. Photo: Turkana County Assembly

The county assembly decides on the budget though it is prepared by the executive. One principle according to the law: 30 percent of the county budget has to be spent for development. That means no more than 70 percent may be spent for recurrent expenditures like wages. Many counties have not met this goal. But you have to look at the amended budgets if you want to find it out. And this is just one issue that can be covered.

Stories are easy to find

So you might want to look at our special Hints for Reporting on the budget page. There are a few key documents to look into. Sometimes you read just a few lines – and you have a story immediately!

Budget Timeline in the Counties

For your reporting needs, familiarize yourself with the Timeline of Budget Making, to determine when you should ask for the documents and the stories. There are legal deadlines for steps to be taken within each financial year. The Budget Making Process begins with making plans, beginning with the CIDP – County Integrated Development Plan for five years, which leads to yearly plans and – especially important, Sectoral Plans and Reports.

There is more than one “Budget”

In everyday language people just talk about “the budget”. The are not aware of the importent differences between The Proposed Budget and The Approved Budget, let alone The Amended Budget.

The bank account of the county is called the County Revenue Fund

The approved County Budgets  

Approved County Budget Estimates must be published online by July 21 (within 21 days of being approved by the county assembly). These are critical documents that allow expenditure to be tracked against the budget over the course of the year.
Unfortunately there is a frequent confusion of titles. Sometimes “the budget” you get is only the “budget proposal” not the one that was “enacted” or “approved”. According to a report of the watchdog organization International Budget Partnership IBP only nine counties had published their running budgets online by January 2016.

The County Budget Review and Outlook Paper  

County Budget Review and Outlook Papers (CBROPs) must be presented to the county assembly by late October and published as soon as possible thereafter (they would be expecting them by November). This document reviews budget implementation during the previous year and sets provisional ceilings that allow the public to understand government priorities and permit government departments to prepare their proposals for the upcoming budget. IBP – the International Budget Partnership counted in the beginning of 2016 only one county (Baringo) that had published the CBROP online.

Budget Implementation Report

The quarterly and yearly Budget Implementation Reports are prepared by the Controller of Budget
The first Quarter Budget Implementation Reports (BIP) should be published by late October (within 30 days of the end of the quarter). The public and the County Assemblies should review quarterly implementation reports to monitor if money is being spent as planned. This allows for problems to be rectified while the budget is being implemented and helps to guide budget formulation for the coming year. In January 2016 the NGO “International Budget Partnership”, IBP (ext. link) counted only one county (Baringo) that had published the first quarter’s BIP in time online.