Limited Public participation on audit process has greatly contributed to the decline in Kilifi county’s budget process transparency score, 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, the score of transparency in Kilifi county’s budget process reduced from 30% in the year 2020 to 9% in 2021.

During a stakeholder meeting held on Friday at a Kilifi hotel by IPFK to assess the challenges hindering the fiscal transparency at substantial level, major gaps identified include limited public knowledge, poor governance and limited Media engagement.

Led by IPFK Monitoring and Evaluation manager, Jacob Achola said that many stakeholders especially the public get a limited opportunity to asses and critically scrutinize the audit 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 the public involvement.

He also faulted Kilifi county government for the reduced budget transparency index saying that 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 of Kenya grants power to citizens through participating in the budget process, otherwise, it means the government will have more power over the constitution”, Achola said.

“I am asking the residents to come out in large numbers including Civil society organizations, People with Disability, 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 added.

He added that if Kilifi residents can’t participate in the budget process, then they grant the county government the power to implement any project including those against their will.

In an interview with the Media during the stakeholders’ IPFK Project officer Asha Bakari, said that most citizens have lost faith with the responsible audit process stakeholders and that’s why majority of them decide not to participate in the process.

“If the government will not address the challenges of transparency and accountability in the budget process, citizens will not find the need to get involved”, Ms. Bakari said.

“When budget is released, most citizens conclude with misleading information that their public funds have been squandered and fault the government. It is because they already lost their trust with the Audit offices, thus becoming a huge challenge”, she said.

Ms. Bakari informed that most media houses are key stakeholders with a huge role to play in the budget process but don’t understand the audit process clearly and thus conveying the reports to the public becomes a challenge.

“Media houses lack a clear understanding on the audit process and how to interpret these reports for public knowledge consumption”, Ms. Bakari said.

Through Ms. Bakari, IPFK committed to hold trainings for media practitioners to equip them with adequate knowledge on Audit reporting so as to bridge the gap of public participation and knowledge.

She said that the media will also bridge the huge gap budget transparency recorded in Kilifi County if the whole process will be made public to citizens.

Kilifi County assembly clerk Abrahman Chuba said that most residents in Kilifi do not have access to budgetary documents because the office uploads the budget reports into the website, therefore excluding those who don’t have smart phones or internet bundles.

Chuba urged residents to take the responsibility to engage in the budget process to improve transparency in the audit process.

“It is our responsibility to compile budget reports and share them to the public domain. However, there is 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 in the budget process”, Chuba said.

The county assembly plays a critical role in the budget process since it is mandated to oversee the process as stipulated in the County Government Act 2012.

They safeguard the public resources to ensure that public resources are properly utilized responsibly at the county level.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of https://www.ktmn.co.ke KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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