The OCOB and NTA joint committee pose for a photo after a meeting on the development of popularization of OCOB reports. (Seated L-R Mike Oloo, Irene Otieno, Joshua Musyimi & Rose Apunda. Standing L-R Naomi Majale, Joshua Muteti, Newton Kilinga & Dennis Okung’u)

Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July 2021 between the Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB) and the National Taxpayers Association (NTA), the joint committee met on the 17th of December 2021 at Sarova Stanley to discuss the development of the Popular Versions of the National and County Governments Budget Implementation Review reports (BIRR) as part of OCOB’s public information sharing role.

The Committee has been working tirelessly to achieve the set goals and objectives as outlined in the MOU.

During the signing of the MOU in July, OCOB and NTA had agreed to develop county and national scorecards based on the in-year budget reports and initiate a national conversation on the OCOB reports. They were also to develop a popular version of the OCOB reports and disseminate them to the public.

Speaking on behalf of the Controller of Budget, Mr Joshua Musyimi, the Director, Research and Planning noted that this partnership will strengthen OCOB’s oversight role and ensure that there is prudent financial management. He noted that the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, requires OCOB to provide information on budget implementation to the public; this however has not been the case due to limitations such as the scope of information sharing and budget constraints.

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The director emphasized that the development of the annual Popular Version of the BIRR will make it easier for the ‘Wanjikus’ to understand and monitor the budget process from the beginning to the end. The public will also have access to simplified information that can easily be comprehended. The report will promote advocacy and also sensitize the public on key development issues and projects in their locality or counties hence putting the office bearers to task on service delivery to the citizenry and serve as a driver for improving performance in delivery of services and development.

“The popular Version of the BIRR will employ the use of numbers and info-graphics to disseminate information and capture the attention of the public hence expanding their reach. In return, this will promote social accountability where the public can use this information to hold the office bearers of the county and national governments to account. This will promote prudent use of public resources” he said.

Ms Irene Otieno and Mike Oloo from NTA also shared parameters used by NTA during Analysis of County Government BIRR and the development of popular versions of the budgets in their previous work.

The team agreed to develop two different annual popular versions; for the county government and the national government. For the CBIRR popular version, they identified counties based on their geographical coverage and their level of responsiveness in providing information. These counties were; Nairobi, Makueni, Wajir, Kirinyaga and Trans Nzoia. The sectors to be analyzed included health, roads, education and two additional sectors depending on the selected county’s priorities.

The popular version will focus on; Trends in budget allocation, Revenue Receipts-Exchequer releases, Development and Recurrent expenditure, Analysis by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Analysis on selected sectors and Public Debt. The sectors included health, energy and infrastructure, social security, social protection, education and Agriculture and food security.

OCOB and NTA looks forward to rope in other sector players, oversight bodies, counties and the media to actively see that all financial reporting is done in line with the Constitution of Kenya and ensure public funds are utilized prudently.

The Research & planning Directorate will work in partnership with the Budget Implementation directorate and the Public Relations and Communication department to undertake this work.

Comments from members of staff on the development of the popular version of the BIRR are welcome.