A few weeks ago the Open Institute in collaboration with International Budget Partnership (Kenya), the National Taxpayers Association, Development Initiatives and Institute of Public Finance (Kenya), launched an online tool for Kenyans to calculate their total tax contribution be it in income or their lifestyles taxes, through day-to-day spending called Kobole.
It was very interesting to hear some of it’s feedback, which brought out the fact that most Kenyans didn’t know how much they contribute to public affairs. #CollectiveKe.
Coincidentally, that was the same time the Auditor General had just released the Reports on County Assemblies Budget Statements. And transparency being one of our focal points; #Chambua was born. Chambua, is/was a Reading Party, which was meant to bring 100 Kenyans together to really delve in to the latest Auditor General’s reports for County Assemblies for three days. The idea behind this is to understand how the budget allocation is done, how much was allocated to each county and how it was spent.
Through this we can tell how far we’ve progressed in terms of development, health etc. for all counties.
Somehow, I seem to be in the midst of all these, all the time. This time round, I was assigned on quality control area, but I will focus on the area that I felt I contributed the most which is Data classification, Digitization and it’s Analysis.
It was such a great turn out. But the most exciting moment for me was, when the largest turn out was from the youth showing interest in what is happening in our country and the relatively not too old. What was interesting about all these, was the participants came thinking that they were going to review County Assembly Reports from their own county, I’m guilty of that too. Previous night, we had a session with IBP team and I chose my county (but this should be understandable; for an Aspiring Governor of Kiambu County). What they didn’t know is, that they were to select the county to chambua ruffle style from a bowl.
From time to time, I would walk around to make sure that the early birds had all the materials needed for the exercise as they awaited for their respective date for the day. Sooner rather than later, everyone had paired up. Benjamin Charagu Senior Program Manager at Open Institute welcomed everyone to the event. First task was to identify the opinion of the Auditor General and sort of understand why each county was given the said opinion.
What was really surprising to me, was to hear how much the participants wanted to be part of the public budgeting participation yet they don’t, because of their daily search for livelihood.
Public participation gives citizens the opportunity to influence decision-making when it comes to governance processes at county level. It is a two-way process because the government provides the opportunity for citizens to get involved and citizens choose whether to utilize that opportunity or not. In Kenya, public participation in governance is well articulated in the constitution and in other supporting legislation.
Article 10 of the Constitution highlights public participation as a principle and value of good governance. Further, in Article 201(a), the constitution highlights public participation as among principles that guide public finance in addition to openness and accountability in financial matters. Sections 30 and 32 of the County Government Act task governors with the responsibility of promoting and facilitating citizen participation in development of county policies and plans as well as service delivery. Governors are also expected to submit annual reports to county assemblies highlighting how citizens participate in public affairs within the county.
However #Chambua turned out to be a very positive experience for me and for those who came. Luckily, even for those who did not, our tech team Kevin Kavai and Murage Munene and Prolyne Wambui provided an online platform dubbed collectiveKe for physically unavailable enthusiasts to exercise a virtual participation.
……..before we talk about serious stuff, let me take you through the auditor’s language………
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