Budget process: How can Youth be a key stakeholder in the Budget Process?
In Partnership with LENNGO, KNHRC, Mombasa Youth Senate, TI-Kenya
Written By Ken Ogembo & Banice Mburu
Table of Contents
Devolution as architecture in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 was objectively meant to promote democratic and accountable exercise of power, gives power of self- governance to the people and enhances participation of the people in the exercise of the power of the state and in making decisions that affect them.
Contrary, this has not been the case in most County governments where citizens are hardly consulted whenever their respective County governments are planning and implementing development projects. The county governments resort to cosmetic kind of citizen participation to meet the legal requirement rather than to allow the citizen to be engaged in decision making processes. Conclusively leading to politically motivated projects rather than implementing projects that respond to the needs of the people. As a result, corruption has been devolved to the counties, ghost projects and non-essential projects are proliferated in the counties books of accounts as have been reported in the media. It is therefore evident that effective citizen participation is still lacking and the citizens need to be equipped to be able to effectively participate in decision making and also to demand whenever their needs are not being met. Development is further hit by recurrent expenditure, where up to 46% is spent on wages and salaries while 30% on administration and only 21% being for development instead of 30% of total expenditure as stipulated by the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.
Despite the effort to improve levels of citizen participation, Mombasa governor failed to ascent to the citizen participation bill citing the bill as too expensive for the county hence the recipe for ineffective level of public awareness. It is in this regard that Siasa Place in collaboration with Mombasa Youth Assembly, Mombasa Youth Senate, Local Empowerment for Good Governance (LENGGO) Transparency International and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to train youths from within Mombasa County on budget process and points of citizen participation to facilitate their ability to participate in a way that will enable them to influence service delivery.
The meeting drew youth groups from all the six sub-counties of Mombasa who had expressed interest in following through the County budget process to equip them with required information to improve their understanding and encourage effective participation during budget making and implementation. The youths are also expected to share the same through their respective networks through local forums and use of social media in passing the necessary information at the sub- County level. The meeting was attended by 51 youths in total.
The National government raises money through national government transfer, taxes, donors and dividends among other sources. The money collected is then divided in the following percentages:
- National share : 84.5 % depending on the percentage given to the county
- County shared: at least 15% and can be more.
- Equalization fund: 0.5%
Equalization fund is strictly meant for infrastructure development and the money is only given to specified counties. The money is geared towards implementing the following projects:
- Health facilities and
- The process needs to be continuous
- The public need to ask questions
- The process needs to be inclusive
- The people need to be prepared by the government
- The process needs to be credible
Budget making is continuous, open and an inclusive process that require effective participation of all the stakeholders. To participate, the stakeholders need to be well informed on every stage and the role that they need to play in timely, open and in a way that they can easily understand.
The following are the stages:
- Commission for revenue allocation submits sharing formula to Parliament and County Assembly by January 1st.
- County development plan is tabled in County Assembly by September 1st and published within 7 days
- County Fiscal Strategy paper is tabled in County Assembly by February 28th and published within 7 days
- County debt management strategy paper is tabled in Parliament by February 28th Published as soon as practical
- County budget estimates is tabled in County Assembly by April 30th and published as soon as practical
- County budget review and outlook paper and tabled in the County executive committee by September 30th and published as soon as practical
- Quarterly implementation reports on county budget and published within 30 days of the end of each quarter
The idea of devolution was meant to improve service delivery as stipulated in Art 176(2) which states that every county government shall decentralize its functions and provision of services to the extent that it is efficient and practicable to do so.
In effort to make decentralization practical, the following principles need to be observed:
- Timely access to information
- Protection and promotion of the rights of minorities, marginalized groups and communities
- Shared partnership and responsibility
The county government is required to do the following to facilitate free flow of information:
- Facilitate the establishment of structures for citizen participation.
- County government officials have a duty to respond to the petition expeditiously
- County may hold a local referendum to determine;
- County government must establish structures for citizen participation including:
When the above is not realized, the public have the following opportunities through which they can challenge the decision:
- Right to petition county government on any matter under the responsibility of a county government.
- County government must establish structures for citizen participation including:
- ICT platforms
- Town halls
- Budget hearings
- Notice boards
- Job and appointment adverts
- Tender and procurement awards
- Development of project sites
- Participation of Senators and MPs
Participation is important only when it is effective and people understand why they are doing it. Citizen participation is important because of the following reasons:
- It is a constitutional right
- To prioritize development the projects
- Block the county government from implementing non prioritized projects
Rules of citizen participation
- The process should be free and people must not be forced
- The process should be consensual
- Timely and adequate provision of the information
Some of the areas through which the County government can pass information include:
- Mainstream media
- Public galleries
- Notice boards
- Government gazette
Theory of citizen participation
- Citizen power – is where the citizens are given the power to make decision on issues affecting them
- Partnerships – where the government can also partner with other like-minded stakeholders to improve service delivery
- Non-participation – the public can refuse/block the government from only consulting their sycophants when they want to approve any project
- Tokenism – where the government is not allowed to bribe or compromise the people when they want to approve any project
Social Media is a powerful tool in this day and age. It has been a point of information, source of influence and start of a revolution. With all these factors considered; the Government and those in positions of power ought to listen and watch out on current issues and events. This form of media has greatly informed mainstream media. Mainstream media is able to identify key areas of interest to Citizens by following up on the trends of the day. This has got to a point where the sections of print media have a slot for “Quote of the Day” are derived from social media platforms mainly twitter.
Alternatively, this is a tool that can easily be manipulated by individuals with a common goal either to impact positively or negatively. Let’s focus on the positive side of social media. Getting into context, budget processes determine how well the resources will be allocated and used. It is therefore important that the public is aware and encouraged to participate. Social media therefore can inform the dates of different stages of budget making process, participate in the process online or offline, identify key areas missing in the budget and ensure the budget is followed to the latter.
- The Budget process was key and all the people needed to be included at all levels. They need to have information to enable allow them to participate effectively.
- Different people have been playing different roles and there was need for the efforts to be coordinated to give the desired objectives. Some of the existing points included:
- Frontline SMS which the members agreed to use to engage the county government. When using the number 20880, members were asked to start by writing LENGGO for the information to go through.
- Use of social media including twitter, facebook and others to pass information to encourage citizen participation
- The members also agreed to work in collaboration at their respective sub-County level
Question: When is the most appropriate time for citizen to participate?
Response: The public should be able to participate throughout the stages either directly or through their representative
Question: What should be done when the County fail to follow the stipulated law?
Response: Any member of the Public can challenge the same in court of law free of charge. He/s can also report to other government bodies like KNCHR
Question: Can the County Government change the dates that have been provided by the law?
Response: The County cannot change the provision of the constitution but instead can amend laws made by the county. It is therefore difficult for the county to keep changing the law because of the process.
The Local Empowerment for Good Governance (LENGGO) is a membership local based Non – Governmental Organization that was started in April 2011 but was fully registered in March 2012, it operates in Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale. LENGGO is currently implementing the County Budget Tracking Project with the aim of empowering the public with relevant skills and identify opportunities for their participation in the entire budgeting process including monitoring its implementation.
The project further seeks to ensure that counties abide by the provisions of the law in establishing public participation structures such as the County Budget and Economic Forums, the Citizens fora, the County Budget Committees, the County Budgets Preparation and Validation Forums, facilitate in the setting up of the Counties Planning Units and the counties communication platforms as well.
The project is being implemented through the following activities:
- Conducting Public Education on Budget Tracking
- Creation of a mobile phone communication/participation platform
- Use of public art and graffiti
The organization is working with all the likeminded organizations to improve public participation and thus betterment of service delivery.
Siasa place is Non-Profit Non-Governmental Organization and co-working space to provide an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics and governance in Kenya. Siasa Place engages women and youth and encourages them to participations in county governance through both constitutional provided spaces and peoples created spaces.
- Siasa Talks where the public are given the opportunity to discuss issues affecting them on the day to day basis and propose ways through which they can be solved
- Research and documentation on issues affecting youth/women participation in politics and governance
- Electoral Systems, Processes and Electoral Compass
- Use of social media as a tool for advocacy and lobbying to influence governance
The organization is currently working with several universities in the republic on how youths can effectively engage in politics and provide alternative leadership that promote good governance and respect human rights.