Counties Struggle with Budget Transparency, Report Reveals

A group of governors led by Governor Waiguru addressing the media after a special sitting, April 16.

As county governments call for increased budgetary allocations in the next financial year, a recent review has highlighted significant shortcomings in the reporting of onsource revenue across the nation's 47 counties. 

The findings were detailed in Kenya’s County Budget Transparency Survey (CBTS) 2023, released on Friday, May 24.

The report indicates that many counties are only meeting the minimum requirements in their revenue and expenditure reports. 

Effective public service delivery, particularly for underserved, poor, and marginalized communities, hinges on the accurate implementation of county budgets. 

This underscores the critical need for reliable revenue projections by county governments.

However, the report reveals that 44 counties did not meet their Own Source Revenue (OSR) targets for the fiscal year 2022/23. 

When revenue collections fall short of projections, counties risk underspending, which can hinder the delivery of essential services. 

"Comprehensive revenue reporting is crucial for enabling citizens to make informed decisions about budget priorities and to monitor budget implementation progress," notes the report.

In the CBTS 2023, counties disclosed approximately two-thirds of the required information in key budget documents, achieving a revenue score of 64 out of 100 points.

Ndindi Nyoro and Council of Governors
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro meeting with Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru (Second Right) Homabay governor Gladys Wanga (Far Right)and Nandi governor Stephen Sang (Left) on Thursday January 25, 2024.
Ndindi Nyoro

Notably, the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) provided the highest level of revenue information, scoring 97 out of 100 points, while Annual Development Plans (ADPs) lagged with only 27 out of 100 points. 

This trend mirrors the performance in the CBTS 2022, although there have been notable improvements in some budget documents over time, with the Finance Act’s revenue information increasing from 33 out of 100 points in CBTS 2020 to 65 points in CBTS 2023.

Makueni County emerged as the top performer in revenue information, scoring 83 out of 100 points across key budget documents. 

The majority of counties (21) scored between 41 and 60 points, placing them in the C category of assessment. 

Uasin Gishu County performed the worst, with a score in the E category (0-21 points).

Several counties, including Kajiado, West Pokot, Nyamira, and Mombasa, scored within the B category (61-80 points), while Nyeri, Bungoma, and others fell into the C category (41-60 points). A few, such as Meru, Nyandarua, and Kilifi, were in the D category (21-40 points).

"To empower citizens, they need to know how much revenue their government plans to raise, the historical revenue data, and the sources of these revenues. 

This transparency forms the foundation for the legal requirement of sub-national units to provide detailed revenue information, including justifications for any discrepancies between targeted and actual collections. 

Such detailed reporting would offer a clearer picture of county finances, including the challenges faced and potential solutions," critics the report.

Amid these findings, a committee has been formed to mediate between Senators and Members of the National Assembly regarding the proposed allocation of Ksh415 billion to counties.

The Senate had recommended increasing the allocation to Ksh415 billion, a proposal rejected by the National Assembly. 

The 2024/2025 budget estimates allocate Ksh391.1 billion to county governments from the shareable national revenue, marking a Ksh5.7 billion increase from the previous financial year’s allocation.

From left: Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, President William Ruto, Kirinyaga Governor and CoG Chairperson Anne Waiguru and Health CS Susan Nakhumicha  in Kirinyaga County on Tuesday June 13, 2023
From left: Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, President William Ruto, Kirinyaga Governor and CoG Chairperson Anne Waiguru and Health CS Susan Nakhumicha in Kirinyaga County on Tuesday, June 13, 2023