, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 10 – Kenya is weak in providing the public with opportunities to engage in the budget making process showing lack of progress on improving transparency.
This is according to the fifth edition of the Open Budget Index (OBI) report which ranked the country 48 out of 100 as far as transparency of budget information is concerned. Kenya previously scored 49 out of 100 in the last two indexes held in 2012 and 2010.
The report assessed 102 countries around the world using internationally recognised criteria to rank each country on a 100 point scale. It consisted administering 140 factual questions to evaluate three pillars of budget accountability. The pillars were budget transparency, public participation and strength of oversight.
According to International Budget Partnership (IBP), the 48 out of 100 score means that the government does not provide citizens with sufficient information to fully understand the budget and hold the government to account.
“Kenya’s score is however a little higher than the global average score of 45,” said IMP’s Country Manager Jason Lakin.
Uganda on the other hand is a better performer when it comes to being transparent. According to the report, it scored 62 out of 100 considering it substantial. Tanzania scored slightly lower than Kenya garnering 46 with Rwanda being the worst performer in the region scoring 36 out of 100, a score that was considered to be minimal.
Kenya also scored poorly on public participation garnering 33 out of 100. According to the report, the government is weak in providing the public with opportunities to engage in the budget process. Surprisingly, the score is higher than the average score of 25.
The challenge of public participation was acknowledged by Kenneth Waithiru, an official in the National Treasury; “Engagement of the public in the budget process is really low, at County and National levels and we are working towards encouraging more Kenyans to participate in such.”
Tanzania tied with Kenya scoring 33, while Uganda and Rwanda scored 25 and 23 respectively. These were all considered by the report to be minimal regardless of the global average score being 25.
The country however performed well when it came to budget oversight by the Audit.
Ranked at 67 out of 100, the report termed budget oversight by the supreme audit institution as adequate. It however suggested that the Audit be provided more funds as the ones they were receiving were insufficient to fulfil its mandate.
“The constraints being considered on the ability of the auditor to audit security-related expenditure on the new audit bill being discussed in Parliament will restrict the Audit’s freedom and capacity to fulfil its mandate,” Lakin stated.
Kenya’s budget oversight by the Legislature was however termed as limited scoring 49 out of 100.
According to the report, the legislature provides adequate oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and no oversight during the implementation stage of the budget cycle.
“We recommend that the executive receive prior approval by the legislature before implementing a supplemental budget. Additionally, ensure legislature is consulted prior to the virement of funds in the enacted budget, the spending of any unanticipated revenue, and the spending of contingency funds that were not identified in the Enacted budget,” said John Mutua, head of programme on Public Finance Management at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Brazil, Norway, South Africa and the United States were found to provide sufficient budget transparency, establish sufficient opportunities for public participation and have adequate formal oversight institutions.
On the other hand, the survey found that 32 countries are insufficient on all the three pillars.
According to the report, these include a number of countries that have consistently provided scant or no budget information at all. They include Algeria, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia among others.