Kenya: Citizens to participate in budget process

Minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta.

Sodnet: and

Kenyan citizens will have time until the end of this month to participate in the public discussion of the budget statement delivered to the National Assembly by the Ministry of Finance. The Constitution orders the parliamentary budget committee to process the representations of the people and to take into account their recommendations. The Social Development Network (SODNET, national focal point of Social Watch) has committed itself to play an important role delivering information to the public about the budget in an open fashion.

The Fiscal Year 2011/12 budget, drafted with the theme “Building resilience and sustainable inclusive growth for a prosperous Kenya”, amounts to Kshs 1,155 billion (some 140 billion dollars). This statement and all documents shall be handed to the parliamentary budget committee and re-submitted to the National Assembly within 21 days since June 9.

This is in line with a recent announcement by the government, with support from the International Monetary Fund: the draft of an Organic Budget Law, conceived as a series of comprehensive pieces of legislation that describe how public money should be allocated, distributed and monitored.

The Organic Budget Law will establish a new system of financial management at both the national and local level. It will determine how much formal discretion the executive branch of government has, whether and how the government should consult with the legislature or with citizens about public spending, and how government officials will be held to account for mismanagement of public funds.

This project is aimed to establish the roles of the central, provincial and local governments and therefore is critical to determining what decentralization.

The Organic Budget Law is a critical opportunity for civil society in Kenya to ensure that the key principles included in the Constitution are fully embodied in the rest of the laws, according to SODNET. The Chapter 12 of the Kenyan Constitution outlines a radically different approach to public financial management from that contained in the previous constitution. Therefore, the Organic Budget Law will fill in some of the details that were not fully foreseen when the current Constitution was drafted.

The three key principles that will be the key of the Organic Budget Law to are transparency, accountability and public participation.