When talking about the timeline for budget making, there is one area which does not get significant media coverage, if any…the area pertaining to Quarterly Budget Implementation Reports. These are not the reports produced by the Office of the Controller of Budget (COB) which receive more attention (even though it is rarely reported that the COB fails to publish detailed reports as well as quarterly reports). Rather, these are quarterly reports that should be made available by the National Treasury and the County Treasuries.
The Public Finance Management Act directs the national and the county governments to prepare and to table these reports before the National Assembly and the County Assembly respectively.
According to Section 83(5) of the Public Finance Management Act, the National Treasury should submit quarterly budget implementation reports, which are consolidated budget implementation reports for national government entities, to the National Assembly not later than 45 days after the end of each quarter. The National Treasury should also send copies of the reports to the Controller of Budget, Auditor-General and the Commission on Revenue Allocation. The Treasury should also publish and publicise the reports within the same period.
The deadlines for submission of these reports to the National Assembly are:
15th November; for the first quarter (July-September)
15th February; for the second quarter (October-December),
15th May; for the third quarter (January-March), and
15th August; for the fourth quarter (April-June) respectively for each financial year.
For the county governments, according to Section 166(4) of the Public Finance Management Act, the County Treasury should submit quarterly budget implementation reports for the county entities to the county assembly. It should also deliver copies to the Controller of Budget, National Treasury and the Commission on Revenue Allocation, and publish and publicise them. All this should take place not later than one month after the end of each quarter.
Therefore, the deadline for counties to make these reports available is October 31, January 31, April 31 and July 31 respectively.
How journalists can follow up on these reports
The best way a journalist can follow up on whether both the national and county governments are preparing and publicising these reports is to look online through their websites. The International Budget Partnership (IBP Kenya), is an organization that has been following on these and other documents, especially for the county governments, such as the county budget estimates, approved budgets and amended budgets.
IBP reports for the year 2014, 2015 and 2016 paint a grim picture on how the county governments are breaking the financial laws such as the Public Finance Management Act by failing to publish these documents online. They can be a useful resource that can guide a journalist on how to follow up on these reports.
Suggestions for Journalists
- Has the national or county government published its quarterly budget implementation reports online? Have the reports been tabled, published and publicised within the required budget timelines by law?
- If the reports are not online, write to the National Assembly Speaker or Clerk, or the County Assembly Speaker or Clerk, respectively, and request for copies of the reports.
- If you get the reports, check them against the budget (preferably the approved budget). Report on whether the actual expenditure is in line with the approved expenditure.
- Report on your findings, intriguing as they may be, and stick to the facts.
- Organize interviews with officials in the National Treasury or County Treasury and ask them questions regarding these reports. For example, why they have not been tabled or publicised? Seek clarification on any findings in the reports.