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Kenyan MPs to help prepare Budget

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – For the first time since independence, both Parliament and the Treasury are engaged in the preparation of the 2010-2011 fiscal budget, which is expected to result in the prudent use of public resources.

This follows the anchoring into law of the budget process through the enactment of the Fiscal Management Act, 2009 and the implementation of Standing Orders which empower the National Assembly to participate in the budget preparation, execution and audit.

“This to me is a milestone and with these tools at hand, Parliament no longer has any excuses if it fails to ensure proper use of public funds,” said Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said.

MPs have in the past been accused of abdicating their oversight role by failing to closely monitor the process and often rubber-stamping important decisions in the expenditure plans.

“Treasury will be told (that) equity, equality and all fairness must be exercised and so the two parties will engage to make sure that there are no areas that are more equal than others both in terms of sectoral emphasis and the actual distribution of national resources,” Mr Maalim added.

In more than four decades, budget making in Kenya has been a secret affair.

However, this has changed with the enactment of the Act which among other things opens up the process to the public and requires that the Finance Minister tables the Budget Policy Statement to Parliament before March 21 of every year.

The statement not only lays the macroeconomic, fiscal policy and structural reform framework on the budget to be delivered but also outlines an assessment of the current financial year, the targets for the total revenues and the criteria used to apportion public resources.

This is expected to give the Budget Committee and the legislators ample time to go through the voluminous budget documents and relates the numbers to the ‘assumptions’ and estimates in the policy statement.

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“This will ensures that members are in a position to make informed propositions that will be part of the report of the Budget Committee to the House on the fiscal budget can be improved,” explained Mr Maalim during a pre-budget workshop for Budget and Finance Committees.

During the meeting, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance Planning and Trade Chris Okemo urged the Treasury to use that opportunity to clarify certain issues that are contained in the Budget Policy Statement which is the new regulation that lays the background for the budget to be read in any given year.

Mr Okemo called on the need for more disclosure from various ministries to explain how their strategies link with the provisions contained in the budget papers.

“The introduction of the ministerial strategies is a very good idea that forms the basis for performance contracting. All these things are related and should be linked up with the Medium Term Plans, the Vision 2030 and the annual budget,” he argued.

The two-day workshop was intended to enable MPs appreciate the state of the economy, the options available for the 2010-2011 budget, to give them an opportunity to identify national priorities and needs that should advice this year’s budget as well as allow them to appreciate issues of fiscal decentralisation.

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