West Pokot and Laikipia have emerged as the counties with the most transparent budgets according to a survey released by the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBP Kenya). The two counties had scores of 73 and 71 points out of 100 respectively.
The organization launched findings of the survey that evaluated the level of budget transparency across Kenya’s 47 counties.
Nyeri, Makueni and Samburu locked up the remaining three slots in the top five counties with the most open budgets with 71,70 and 64 points respectively. The County Budget Transparency Survey 2020 highlights performance of each individual county and a performance index that ranks counties from the most open to the most opaque on matters on public budgets.
Kirinyaga, Narok, Taita Taveta and Wajir were ranked counties with the most opaque budgets, all scoring zero out of possible 100 points.
While making the presentation, Mr Kipkorir Biegon, Lead Researcher at IBP, noted that the average transparency score across the 47 counties was 33 out of 100 points. This score was based on whether a county had its budget documents publicly available and on the level of information that was provided in those publicly available budget documents. Biegon further noted that only 40 percent of budget documents that should be public by law were published by the counties.
The organization which is known globally for running similar studies at the national level across over 115 countries, indicated that Kenya is one of the first countries where the study is being carried out at the sub-national level. This provides important data and lessons on how county governments can ensure their citizens have better access to budget information.
“At IBP Kenya, we have been conducting the County Budget Transparency Survey since 2015 and the survey focuses on the online availability of key budget documents that should be published and publicized according to the PFM Act. However, in 2020, we expanded the survey to evaluate the comprehensiveness of the information provided in the budget documents that counties avail to the public.” said Dr. Abraham Rugo, Country Manager at IBP Kenya.
Access to timely and comprehensive information is critical if the public is to participate in government decision-making, especially the budget-making process. The Constitution of Kenya and the Public Finance Management Act require each of the 47 counties in Kenya to publish and publicize budget documents throughout the budget cycle. These budget documents are supposed to help the public shape county priorities and monitor the implementation of budgets.
Despite having a low average transparency index across the counties, CBTS 2020 indicated slow growth in the number of budget documents being published compared to previous surveys that IBP Kenya had conducted.
The survey noted that out of the budget documents assessed, the County Quarterly Budget Implementation Reports remains the least published documents while the County Integrated Development Plan was the most published document. The Annual Development Plan (ADP) has been progressively published over the years with the number of counties publishing the document growing from 4 in 2015, to 25 in 2018, and 33 in 2020.
It was concerning to note that some counties produce these budget documents but fail to publish and publicize them. This was brought out when Dr. Rugo noted that “When we completed the availability survey and shared the results with counties, an additional 69 budget documents were made public by the counties which showed an increase of 33.5% of publicly available documents.”