On the Salary Cuts for the President, Deputy President and Others

Posted by on 13th March 2014

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The Cabinet is back from its one week retreat, and if the President’s speech is any indication dealing with the country’s public wage bill is high on the government’s agenda.

Unless you live under a rock it’s likely that you know or have heard, that two of the highest paid public sector workers (the President and the Deputy President) will be taking a 20% wage cut, the Cabinet will also be taking 10% pay cut all effective immediately.

It seems that since the President’s speech, the offers to take salary cuts are coming in droves: Senator Kithure Kindiki has stated that he is ready to take a 30% salary cut, and proposed that the commissioners and their deputies take similar cuts. Majority Leader, Aden Duale, has stated that he is willing to take a 15% pay cut should the National Assembly  fail to pass bill to reduce the salaries of parliamentarians, he has also suggested  reducing the number the number of constitutional commissions as well as salary cuts for those who sit on those commissions.

The Majority Leader has also stated the National Assembly would be willing to meet with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to discuss the issue of the public sector wage bill.

However all this talk of salary cuts seems populist and amnesiac at best, and at worst an ineffective way of the dealing with the public sector wage bill.

Populist because State Officers salaries and particularly MPs salaries have been sticking point for most of the Kenyan public for several administrations, and a 20% pay cut in the salaries of the highest earning state officers seems a bit like a public relations stunt as it is unlikely to make a significant dent in the public sector wage bill. Let’s assume that the President earns a salary of 2 million shillings per month a 20% pay cut is only 400,000 shillings hardly likely to make a dent in a wage bill that costs the country and tax payers billions of shillings annually.

Amnesiac because at the beginning of this administration the Salaries and Remuneration Commission made and gazetted salary cuts for state officers. State Officers then fought the salary cut tooth and nail and in the end salaries for all State Officers including those at county level was well above the SRC recommendations. Also it seems this move seems to forget that there is a Commission mandated to determine and review the salaries of all State Officers and the National Assembly has been trying to disband this body for its stance on salaries.

The salary cut declarations may be an ineffective way of dealing with the public wage bill. For one these declarations fail to address the issue of untaxed allowances which form a large part of the public wage bill. The salary cut declarations are neither legislated nor institutionalised so what’s to say they will be followed? Further the declarations do little to empower the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the body constitutionally mandated to review determine salaries of State officers, and makes it seem like state officers are doing Kenyans a favour by agreeing to salary cuts, when that is clearly not the case.

The National Assembly Queries the Rising Public Wage Bill Finally

Posted by on 11th March 2014

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According to a report in the Business Daily, “Parliament has questioned a Sh32.7 billion increase in public wages and benefits despite devolution of several functions and shifting of personnel to counties. The Budget and Appropriation Committee has asked the Treasury to explain its projection that the wage bill will rise from Sh263 billion to Sh295.7 billion in the financial year starting July 2013, a 12.4 per cent rise.”

While it is a welcome move that the National Assembly is finally questioning the public wage bill, it seems that National Assembly is a bit late to the gate.

It’s a well known fact that between the last administration and this one there has been a speedy growth of the public wage. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has attributed the rise of the wage bill to not only the added layers of the government introduced by the devolved system, but also to the increase in a salaries, as well the substantial allowances paid out by government.

According to the Commission, “Kenya’s total wage bill in the public sector has continued to increase in nominal terms…due to an increase in the number of employees as well as an increase in the average wage. A significant amount of employee compensation is in allowances such as: personal allowance, hardship allowance, entertainment allowance and risks allowances. The Kenyan average annual growth rate in wage bill over the last three years is about 13% (for 2012/13 alone, the increase was by 30%), well above the nominal GDP growth of about 4% and population growth rate of about 3%.”

The National Treasury reports the country’s wage bill as being 12% of GDP, the ratio of recurrent expenditure to the total budget is 69%. The public sector wage bill, as at 30th June, 2013, was about 12%, which is higher than the internationally desirable level of not more than 7% and government target of not more than 8%. The Central Government wage bill as a share of GDP is estimated to be 7.8% compared to 6.5% for Africa which is also the government target while the Central Government wage bill took about 35% of Government total revenue and with a debt service of about 17.2% leaving less than 48% of the total revenue for other operations.

Looking at these figures I am sure Kenyans wonder whether the millions of funded posts in the public sector and the rise in their wages over the past few years is being matched by productivity increases.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has been warning the government about the country’s unsustainable wage bill ever since it was first established.  Lowering the country’s wage bill was also one of the Jubilee coalition’s flagship campaign promises, as well as a focus of the President’s national address in 2013. So it would be great to see more concrete steps towards this.

The fact is that if the public wage continues to rise it will not only be unsustainable but it will definitely begin to crowd out other important forms of government expenditure, infrastructural development and essential services i.e. education, health care.

How do we Evaluate Performance of Senators and MPs?

Posted by on 3rd March 2014

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Combined the National Assembly and Senate has over 400 members that cost the country billions of shillings in wages annually. The representatives that sit in both Houses are supposed to ensure responsiveness and accountability of government to citizens by conducting open debate on government policy, legislation, finances, and representing citizens’ views in Parliament.

But how well are our representatives in the National Assembly and Senate performing? How do we evaluate the quality of a single member of parliament/senator/or party? Is there a way to know who is a good Parliamentarian or Senator, is it through attendance, participation or innovation?

While it is difficult to measure the quality of a single Member of Parliament, oral statements made on the floor of the House are an important performance measure for both MPs and Senators. Citizens can use the number of oral statements made on the floor of National Assembly or Senate to tell whether or not their elected representative is participating in policy and legislative discussions.

Last year Parliament was in session for a total of 29 weeks, Mzalendo has gathered data from the Hansards (National Assembly and Senate) and analysed the verbal presence of parliamentarians to find out the top performing representatives in the both Houses, using a simple quantitative metric  – the total number of times the Member of Parliament or spoke on the floor as indicated by the Hansard.

Unsurprisingly the two biggest party coalitions – Jubilee Coalition and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy – lead political debate in the both Senate and the National Assembly. Aden Duale, and James Kembi Gitura were the most active representatives in the National Assembly and Senate respectively. More surprising and disappointing is the that analysis indicates that between March and December 2013 shows that one third of MPs contributed to debated on the floor less than ten times, not a great indicator of participation, but does it mean that a third of parliament should be cut?

It should be noted that the metric only measures the number of the times the MPs or Senators spoke in parliament rather than the quality of what they said. Consequently several questions remain i.e. did the MP or Senator make valuable comments? Are the MPs and Senators speaking on issues important to their constituents? Is the MP delivering on campaign promises?

The Impeachment of a Governor: A New Era of Accountability?

Posted by on 20th February 2014

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The conditions for removal of Governors are stipulated in Article 181 of the constitution; the article states that governors may be removed from office for, gross violations of the constitution and laws; where there are serious reasons for believing the county governor has committed a crime under national or international law; gross misconduct, abuse of office and/or physical or mental incapacity that prevents him/her from performing the duties of a governor.

Less than a year since governors were elected the members of Embu County Assembly have successfully managed to invoke the Article to remove their Governor from office.  This was the first ever instance of impeachment proceedings in the history of the Republic of Kenya; and the first process of this nature under the constitution.  The removal of a governor from office is significant as for what is says about accountability, checks and balances within the new devolved systems, and the potential impact it could have for holding State officers accountable at all levels of government.

Procedurally after the Speaker of the Senate received the notice for removal the Governor and Deputy Governor from the County Assembly, he convened a meeting of the Senate to hear the charges against the governor.  The Senate convened a Special Sitting the 4th February, 2014 and a motion for Removal of the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Embu County passed. The Motion led to the formation a Special Committee whose mandate was to investigate the proposed removal  the Governor and Deputy Governor of Embu County and to report to the Senate on whether the allegations against the two to have been substantiated.

Last week the Committee found that, “there were procurement irregularities and malpractices and outright violation of the relevant laws,” by the Governor, specifically violations of constitution Public procurement Act Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and the Public Finance Management Act. The in the summary of its report to the Senate the Special Committee stated that:

While primary liability for violations of procurement laws may lie with individual officers, Article 73 of the Constitution which provides for the responsibility of leadership as read with Article 179 of the Constitution and Section 33 (f) of the County Governments Act, 2012, lead to the conclusion that the Governor will be held liable for violations that occurred during his watch and in respect of which he or she does not take any action.” The Committee also reported that, “the Auditor-General also convinced the Committee that the attempt by the Governor to shift blame to subordinates could not hold even if those subordinates were the accounting officers, because finally, the buck not only stops at the doorstep of the Governor, but the Constitution expects the Governor to be alive to the running of the county and to ensure that he has systems in place that monitor those accounting officers to his satisfaction. This is something which the Governor said: I do not know, it was not me, I did not have to know. Then we wondered why he is in that office. Mr. Speaker, Sir, for that reason, this House will be helping Governor Martin Nyaga Wambora by saving him the trouble and pain of having to be in a office where he has no idea what is going on. This office will give him high blood pressure and ulcers for nothing. Instead you will be giving him preventive treatment.” (Senate Hansard 14.2.2014)

Could this finding of the Senate against the Governor spell the end of buck passing by State Officers in leadership positions? It would certainly be timely given the number of procurement scandals happening at the moment. In an unsurprising move and possibly in effort to curb future impeachments Governors have asked the Supreme for an advisory opinion on whether the Senate has the mandate to summon them over county finances.

Parliament vs. the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Again

Posted by on 19th February 2014

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Following the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s downward review of the MPs salaries last year (a welcome move given how much MPs are paid, as well as country’s public wage bill that grew in leaps and abounds with the addition of the new governmental structures) MPs engaged the Commission in a battle over salaries that seemed to take up most of 2013’s legislative agenda.

Member of the National Assembly, Mithika Linturi, filed a motion that sought to remove the SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem and her team for refusing to review the new pay structure and accused the SRC of discriminating against members of parliament, governors, county and women representatives.

Members of the National Assembly also attempted to have legislation amended to have their positions excluded from the definition of State Officers. The intention of the amendment was that the Members of the National Assembly would no longer be State Officers thus avoiding the requirement that their salaries be set and regulated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Eventually the Members of the National Assembly won the battle when members of the National Assembly voted to increase their salaries adopting a report that recommended the legal notice reducing their salaries be revoked.

At the time the Speaker of the National Assembly was quoted as stating that the move by the National Assembly to increase salaries of members was a correction of “an illegality” done by the SRC. The Speaker insisted that the SRC had violated the law. The Speaker was quoted as stating that, “It [was] the constitutional role of Parliament to make and change laws.” that “Parliament cannot be directed by any organ other than itself and the Constitution.”

At the time the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) released a statement condemning the move and stating“It is important to note that the demand for an independent body to set the salaries and benefits of State officers arose from a concern that conflicts of interest were inevitable when institutions in the public service were setting salaries, benefits and remuneration for themselves and staff of peer institutions.” The CIC condemned the call for the disbandment of the SRC stating further that “IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALISE THAT SRC IS NOT REQUIRED BY THE CONSTITUTION TO GAZETTE THE SALARIES AND BENEFITS OF STATE OFFICERS TO MAKE THEM EFFECTIVE, SRC JUST CHOSE THE MODE OF GAZETTMENT IN GOOD FAITH FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION. Quashing the gazette notices is therefore of no effect as the new salaries and benefits are already set and communicated to the institutions responsible for paying salaries and benefits. Furthermore the National Assembly Remuneration Act cannot be the basis of paying MPs salaries and benefits since under Article 2(4) it is void to the extent that it is inconsistent with Article 230(1) of the constitution.”

Last week a three-judge bench of the High Court ruled that the National Assembly over stepped in the revoking the gazette notice reviewing the salaries downward, and the further that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is the only body mandated to set salaries of State Officers, Members of the National Assembly included.

So far MPs have not responded to the High Court ruling, however the House is back from recess, the big question is whether or not the National Assembly will comply with Court’s ruling.

On the Tendering Process and the Need for Transparency

Posted by on 18th February 2014

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How much do we really know about the country’s public procurement process?

Chapter 12 of Constitution on public finance commits the government to transparency; efficiency and cost effectiveness as far as use of public funds is concerned. Article 227 (1) that specifically addresses public procurement states that:

“When a State organ or any other public entity contracts for goods or services, it shall do so in accordance with a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.”

Given the recent procurement scandals one wonders to what extent the constitutional provisions and pursuant legislation is actually being followed. It seems that recently there have been an unprecedented number of procurement related scandals.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Tassia project which was initially priced at Sh.4.6 billion and moved to Sh.5.033, an almost million dollar increase is currently being investigated by the National Assembly’s Labour and Social Welfare Committee as well as the Public Investment Committee.

The press reports that, “Director Jacqueline Mugo, who sits on the NSSF Board, told the Public Investment Committee of Parliament…that the Sh5 billion tender awarded to a Chinese company to construct access roads and other infrastructure in Tassia was done without the knowledge of the board.”

Recently the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered the arrest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya for abuse of office for controversially awarding a Sh1.2 billion software security contract to a British firm. The Nation reported that process led to the loss of more than Sh400 million of public funds. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission recommend that the CBK governor and other bank officials be charged for failing to comply with public-procurement rules.

Parliament is also investigating whether procurement procedures were followed in awarding of the tender for the supply of laptops for standard one pupils. The project is quoted as being worth Sh22 billion for the supply of 1.3 million laptops for standard one pupils, and 20,637 laptops for teachers and an equivalent number of projectors and printers. The National Assembly’s Education Committee has requested that the process be stopped while the Committee ascertains that due diligence was performed in the award of the tender.

Then of course there is, the Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway, the country biggest infrastructural investment, currently being probed by the Public Investment Committee (PIC) as well as the Departmental Committee on Transport.

It seems that despite the existence of the constitutional requirement for transparency in public procurement processes, the pursuant legislation, and bodies created to ensure accountability, it seems that public procurement procedures used in the infrastructural development remain vague and opaque. One wonders if this is deliberately so. Multi billion infrastructural and development projects do offer multiple opportunities for misappropriation of funds.

What are we not being told? Can we be told what the tendering process was? Was it advertised? How many people applied? Why was the person who won the tender? It will be interesting to see what the National Assembly committees investigating the scandals recommend and whether their recommendations will improve the overall transparency in public procurement.

Of Railways, Unilateral Presidential Declarations, Checks & Balances

Posted by on 31st January 2014

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As far as megaprojects go the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is definitely one. One of the flagships of Vision 2030, it is projected that the railway will take 5 years to build and will run through at least 7 of the 47 counties, opening up previously ‘difficult to reach’ areas and will extend to Rwanda and South Sudan opening up at least 40 business centres.

According the Vision 2030 website the SGR:

‘The SGR is the largest project to be undertaken in the country in 50 years….Kenyans are set to enjoy considerable savings…once the construction is completed…the project will herald a major economic transformation.’

So how much does a project of this magnitude cost?

It is estimated that the SGR will cost at the least Kshs. 340 billion. However this amount excludes costs of land acquisitions, demolition, taxes, interest rates on loans etc. So by the end of the project it will probably cost more than the reported amount of Kshs. 340 billion, according to the Vsion 2030 website the amount is more like 1.2 trillion shillings.

The SGR is probably a worthwhile investment, if it is finished on budget, on time and delivers promised benefits. However it seems that graft/corruption are already affecting the project. From regular coverage of murky government procurement and tendering processes it is unsurprising that the translation of the SGR from vision to reality is already the subject of controversy.

Two of the committees of the National Assembly, the Public Investment Committee (PIC) and the Departmental Committee on Transport are currently investigating the Kshs. 340 billion tender awarded China Road and Bridge Corporation for the construction of Mombasa-Nairobi Railway System.

According to press reports in documents tabled before the Committee the Attorney General, Githu Muigai, had advised that the process used to award the contract to build the railway was not backed by Kenyan law; and further that the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) approved the project contrary to the AGs advice.

However in spite of ongoing investigations the President has made an uncategorical declaration that the railway project will proceed as planned. The President is quoted as stating, “There comes an hour when the noise must stop, and the work must begin. We are at that hour …We must stop this culture we have developed that if one loses a bid, then he has to employ every trick to stop the project. If you lose a bid fair and square, move on but do not stop the transformation agenda.”And the AG has since stated that any comments made contrary to the legal of the process were mentioned out of context by the media

So while there is something to be said for ignoring the ‘haters’ and continuing with the work at hand. It appears that there still exist questions around the tendering/procurement process for the SGR. Yet without final reports investigations into the possible irregularities in the tendering process for the SGR, it appears that the project will proceed as planned. So one wonders what the implications are for the parliamentary democracy, having checks and balances between the executive and the legislature, what does it mean for transparency and accountability with regards to tendering processes, if the President can make unilateral declarations about their being above board?

Drought in Turkana: A Failure of Policy, Priorities & Planning

Posted by on 29th January 2014

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Last week the story below the impending drought/famine crisis in Turkana appeared in the press:

“The government has dispatched a team to survey the famine situation in Turkana County. The drought has affected at least 400,000 people. More than 35,000 children are out of school due to the drought. Most school children have dropped out to join their parents in the search for water and food…  the county government has sent out an appeal to humanitarian groups to come in aid of the starving families.”

It is no secret that Turkana is one of the country’s driest most food insecure regions. However despite the fact cyclical droughts in Turkana is common knowledge it seems that no sustainable plan has been put in place to mitigate the effects of the drought.

Even with the discovery of vast amounts of water in Turkana it appears that Turkana will suffer drought and famine yet again? Last year two underground aquifers, storing billions of litres of water were discovered in Turkana. The aquifers are estimated to hold enough water reserves to sustain, not only Turkana’s water consumption, but the whole of Kenya’s water consumption for the next 70 years as well.

There is little doubt that with the right policies the discovery of the water aquifers has the potential to change the lives and livelihoods of the people of Turkana County and the country as whole. So where are the policy makers, given the drought situation in Turkana is well known?

However for arguments sake let us say it is too soon to take advantage of the water in Turkana because the requisite infrastructure is yet to be put in place, and it  will be a while before the Turkana will be able to take advantage of the discovery of water. It is still ironic that people in one part of the country are currently suffering for lack of food, when the National Cereals and Produce turned away produce from farmers in a different part of the country.

At end of last year NTV reported that the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) turned away farmers produce for lack of ways and means to the store the produce:

“Maize farmers in Uasin Gishu and Tranz Nzoia counties say they have nowhere to take their produce. The NCPB depots in Ziwa, Eldoret and Moi’s Bridge are not taking any maize, and the one in Moi’s Bridge in particular is our point of focus today. Hundreds of trucks have lined up at the depot for a week now, but they can’t deliver the maize, as the facility does not have fuel to dry their maize.”

However this may not be ironic as one thinks, as maize or the lack of maize, has been a subject of several scandals. A World Bank Report estimated that the country had lost nearly Kshs 1 billion in the maize scandal of 2009.

So drought and famine, in a region of the country that has the most water, and people in one section starving while NCBP turns away produce; failure of priorities, and policy?

On the Parliamentary Committee Report on the Westgate Attack

Posted by on 24th January 2014

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Since 2010, there have been at least 30 terrorist attacks in the country, with a majority of the attacks occurring post Kenya’s Somalia intervention. While in this light the Westgate attack was only one of many, it is that attack that has by far received the most international and national attention. Following it the National Assembly set up a Joint Committee to investigate and report on all matters surrounding the attack, as well as make recommendations on preventative measures and steps to be to improve the internal security.

Given the varying accounts of the terrorist attack in the media with regards to fatalities, causalities and even the number of the terrorists involved in the attack, one hopes the parliamentary report will shed some light not only the attack, but the on the structural and institutional failures that led up to it. 

The committee held a total of 20 meetings the summoning the National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Interior, the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of  Defence, the Department of the Immigration, the Departments of Refugee Affairs among others – to appear before it.

Approximately 3 months from its first sitting in September 2013 the committee has published its full report.

According to the report, 67 people were killed and 200 injured in the attack, 4 terrorists were shot and killed, 4 accomplices have been arraigned and 5 suspects remain at large, it is interesting to note that these numbers are at variance with the numbers in the press.

The report further highlights the fact that the country’s National Security machinery had received warnings regarding the impending attack, and notes the general laxity by the police over terror warnings.

It is interesting to note that while the Parliamentary reports a, “nationwide systemic failure on the part of the Immigration Services Department, Department of Refugee Affairs; and Registration of Persons Department attributed to corruption at the border control points and registration centres, mainly in Nairobi, Coast and North Eastern area,” it leaves out failures in national security bodies.

The report confirms what every Kenyan knows that Kenya is still susceptible to terror attacks. The Committee attributes this susceptibility to political factors, specifically Kenya’s relationship with the United States, porous borders, corruption particularly with regards to immigration, low levels of preparedness, proliferation of small and light weapons, youth radicalisation, and the refugee problem.

Recommendations the Parliamentary Committee makes in response, include a whole gamut of legislative, institutional and structural reforms including:

  • Declaring war against al Shabaab wherever they are. That the war against terrorism should be intensified within and outside the country.
  • Investigating lapses in the country’s security agencies
  • The establishment National Inter-Agency Co-ordination Center (Directorate of National Security) and well trained and well equipped Special Rapid Response Commandoes to respond to emergency situations
  • Radical surgery in the Department of Immigration Services. As well the holding the Department of Immigration Services, the Registration of Persons Department, the National Registration Bureau and the Department of Refugee Affairs accountable for compromising national security.
  • Repealing of the Refugee Act of 2006
  • Closure of Dadaab (Daghale, Ifo, Ifo II, Hagdera, Kambios) and Kakuma Refugee Camps and return of resident refugees repatriated to their country of origin
  • Fast tracking of the National Disaster Management Policy

The Report will be one of the issues before the National Assembly when it resumes sitting in February.

Find the full report here.

Of County Budgets, Priorities and Public Participation

Posted by on 20th January 2014

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Devolution is intended to bring services closer to the people. The county budget process is a big part of doing this as it is how the government, including the county governments, allocate scarce resources to various programmes and services. Under the Division of Revenue Act Ksh 210 billion was allocated to county budgets, Ksh190 billion in unconditional transfers, and Ksh 20 billion in conditional transfers.

To say that the last county budget process was messy is an understatement. Several counties almost missed the July deadline for submission of budget estimates, when the budget estimates were submitted they revealed skewed priorities.

  • Nairobi County set aside 462 million shillings to renovate county assembly representatives’ chambers, 100 million shillings for new vehicles, 172 million shillings for vehicle maintenance, 30 million shillings for transport allowances for county representatives. Sitting allowances were doubled to 160 million shillings
  • Nakuru County budgeted 40 million shillings  for the construction of the governor’s residence and an additional governor’s entertainment allowance of 33.5 million shillings
  • Kisumu County set aside 72 million shillings for a fleet of Toyota Prados for its executive committee members.
  • Homa Bay County earmarked 70 million shillings for vehicles and 2.5 million shillings for construction of a health fitness centre for the county’s executive committee members.

Though people expected start up costs associated with setting up of the county governments, most Kenyans were expecting that the set up costs would be weighed against development needs of the counties and a reasonable ground between development and recurrent costs set up. An audit report on county budgets from the Office of the Controller shows that county governments spent a majority of their budgets on recurrent expenditures e.g. salaries and allowances. According to the report more than half of the 47 did not spend a single cent on development during the quarter between July and September.

To rectify the above the Senate Committee on Devolution has announced that is currently in the process of legislating county budgets to ensure 70 per cent of the budget is reserved for development projects while the rest will cater for recurrent expenditure. But what is the role of citizens in ensure the county budgets reflect their priorities?

There are broad provisions for public participation in the county budgeting process both in the constitution and national law. Article 201(a) of the constitution requires openness, accountability and public participation in financial matters further the Public Finance Management Act, Section 125(2), demands that the County Executive Committees ensure there is public participation in the entire budget process. Despite these provisions the frameworks for participation are sketchy at best, not to mention that the budgeting processes can be daunting to most people.

The International Budget Partnership Kenya has created tools that can help the public ensure that the next budget cycle caters to their priorities i.e. health care, education, infrastructure and development 16 Key Questions About Your County Budget: A Tool for Reading and Understanding County Budgets and Learning By Doing: Toward Better County Budgets in 2014/15. Hold county governments accountable.