County On It

There are many questions that one could ask about Kenya’s new draft County Governments Financial Management Bill, 2011 which can be found online here. The first is why this bill is even more voluminous (40 extra pages!) than the Public Financial Management Bill draft for central government. Another question is how these two bills will be made consistent, given that they are being drafted by different agencies working independently.

Fillip for Transparency

I will ask more questions after I finish reading the entire 131 pages. In the meantime, I wanted to note two very positive things about this draft. The first is an excellent transparency clause located on page 29, section 30.  This clause says that the County accounting officer must place on the county website a comprehensive list of documents including:

The annual budget

All budget-related documents

All budget-related policies

The county annual report

All performance contracts

All service delivery agreements

All long-term borrowing contracts

All supply chain management contracts above a certain value

All quarterly reports tabled in the assembly

The list goes on. It is also noted that these documents must be available no later than five days after they have been tabled in the county assembly.

Funds Follow Function

The second clause that I wanted to draw attention to is on page 34, section 39. This clause states that “[c]ounty governments shall, in line with the principle of funds must match and follow functions, be allocated sufficient funds to enable their performance of the functions allocated to them.” This is followed by a spectacular provision stating that “the national government and the county governments, shall… Accurately cost the functions assigned to each level of government to determine the exact financial resources to be allocated to each level of government.” This is critical to ensure that the central government does not dump responsibilities onto county governments without sufficient resources to execute those responsibilities.

Both of these clauses—the one dealing with transparency, and the other with the relationship between fund and function—address key issues which have been flagged by budget advocacy organizations around the world working at the subnational level.  It is extremely encouraging to see these provisions in the draft legislation.  It is to be hoped that clauses of this type and quality will remain in the final bill, and will also influence positively the Public Financial Management Law.

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