Kenya has made progress in budget transparency thanks to institutional and policy interventions, helping secure trillions of shillings in budget funds.

This is according to findings by the Open Budget Survey 2023 which shows that Kenya improved in transparency score from 50 in 2021 to 55 this year. This is way above the global average of 45.

Kenya is ranked 48 out of 125 countries when it comes to publishing information to support public debate on annual budget estimates. In East Africa, Kenya is ranked at 55% while Rwanda is at 50%

Speaking during the launch, IPF CEO, James Muraguri noted that the fact that the government collects and spends billions of taxpayer funds to pay for public services, the public has a right to know how that money is allocated and how it is spent.

“Transparency and participation in the budget process are consistently associated with improvements in the quality of the budget, such as a lower deficit, more targeted budget priorities, and increased operational efficiency. These values can also lead to better governance and redirection of spending to marginalized communities,” Muraguri noted.

He also added that by engaging citizens at all stages of budget making, there will be improved public trust in government, increased civic participation and political know-how, increased tax revenue, and lead to better development outcomes.

“Participatory budgets have been shown to have the potential to build tax morale and increase revenue. This is because budget transparency creates a virtuous cycle in public debt management, leading to lower borrowing costs as well as low debt levels.

The report comes at a time when there are ongoing budget public hearing sessions spearheaded by the National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee to give views on the proposed 2024/2025 budget estimates. The government has come under scrutiny in recent times with discussions on how it spends its allocated budgets given the widening budget deficits.

Notably, the Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the expenditure of Ksh. 3.914 trillion. The estimated revenues from taxes are expected to be KES 3.354 trillion, made up of ordinary revenues of Ksh. 2.913 trillion and appropriations in aid of Ksh. 441 billion. Further, the projected fiscal deficit will be Ksh. 703.9 billion which is the difference between total revenues and grants and total expenditure and net lending. This fiscal deficit represents 3.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Institute of Public Finance (IPF) is an independent think tank based in Nairobi, which aspires to further the ideas of open Public Finance Management systems through research, trainings, and capacity strengthening.