Limited Public participation in the audit process has contributed to the decline in Kilifi county’s budget process transparency score, the Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPF) reports.
According to the County Budget Transparency Survey (CBTS) report conducted by IPFK in partnership with International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK) the score of transparency in Kilifi county’s budget process reduced from 30 percent in the year 2020 to 9 percent in 2021.
During a stakeholder meeting held on Thursday at a Kilifi hotel to assess the challenges hindering the fiscal transparency at substantial level, major gaps identified included limited public knowledge, poor governance and limited media engagement.
IPFK Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Mr. Jacob Achola said that many stakeholders, especially the public get a limited opportunity to assess and critically scrutinize reports from the Auditor general’s office.
According to Achola, failure to interrogate the issues emerging in the audit process contribute to most of the projects in the county being done without public involvement.
He also faulted Kilifi county government for reduced budget transparency index saying it has led to corruption and mistrust between the citizens and the budgetary office in the county.
Achola urged Kilifi residents to fully participate in the budget process so as to understand how the public money is being utilized.
“When there is no transparency in the budget process we should expect increased corruption, misappropriation of funds and false projects. The Constitution grants power to citizens through participating in the budget process,” Achola said.
“I am asking the residents to come out in large numbers including Civil society organizations, People with Disabilities, and any other citizen to participate in the budget process and share their views. Let them join together and move forward as a critical force that can push for the agenda,” he said.
In an interview with the Media, IPFK Project officer Ms. Asha Bakari, said most citizens have lost faith with those responsible for the process, reason why majority of them do not participate.
“When budget is released, most citizens make conclusions that their public funds have been squandered and blame the government but this may be derived from misleading information. It is because they already lost their trust with the Audit offices,” Bakari said.
She noted that most media houses are key stakeholders with a key role to play in the budget process but don’t understand the audit process clearly and thus conveying such reports to the public becomes a challenge.
“Media houses lack a clear understanding of the audit process and how to interpret these reports for public knowledge and consumption,” she said, adding, IPFK will commit itself to training media personnel to equip them with adequate knowledge on Audit reporting.
Kilifi County assembly clerk Mr. Abrahman Chuba said most residents do not have access to budgetary documents because the office uploads them into the website, therefore excluding those who don’t have smart phones or internet bundles.
“It is our responsibility to compile budget reports and share them to the public domain. However, there is a huge gap in the number of people who access them. Public participation in this county is so limited and that’s why most residents lack enough knowledge of the process,” Chuba said.
The county assembly is mandated to oversee the process as stipulated in the County Government Act 2012.