Budget Brief No. 33 – Parliament and National Treasury: How are They Playing Their Roles in Kenya’s New Budget Process?


The 2010 Constitution of Kenya and the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 (PFM Act) significantly altered the roles that Parliament and the National Treasury should be playing in Kenya’s budget process. Parliament (particularly the National Assembly) is now expected to play a larger role in budget decisions. While the National Treasury retains a major role in agenda-setting, it must now position itself to be able to sell its budget proposals.

This brief examines how the National Assembly and Treasury interacted during the formulation and approval of Kenya’s 2015/16 budget to determine how they are adapting to these new rules.
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Key findings:

  • Despite the expansion of Parliament’s role, the major aspects of the 2015/16 budget were largely unaffected by the National Assembly’s changes.
  • In March, the National Assembly amended Treasury’s proposed Budget Policy Statement to direct more funds to Parliament itself and, to a lesser extent, other oversight institutions (such as the Office of the Auditor General). This increased the deficit by a modest amount.
  • While the Budget Policy Statement agreed to in March should have established the total size of the budget, Treasury did not respect this and increased spending by approximately Ksh 74 billion in its budget estimates tabled in Parliament in April. The National Assembly did not respond substantively to this violation of the Budget Policy Statement and approved the larger deficit in June.
  • The National Assembly and the National Treasury both failed to provide informative justifications for the changes that they made as they moved through the budget-making process between February and June. This makes it impossible to understand the priorities of either actor, or how they incorporate (if they do) public inputs into the budget process.





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John Kinuthia

Senior Program Officer, IBP Kenya, International Budget Parnership

John is a Senior Program Officer at the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK). He joined IBP in October 2012 just as Kenya’s ambitious devolution program was taking off. John leads IBPK’s research and analytical work in Kenya, and he is part of the team that works to promote budget transparency and to improve public engagement on how the government raises and spends public resources.

He has done extensive research on Kenya’s public finance system for evidence generation that IBP uses to provide technical support to civil society organizations and, in some cases, government agencies. John’s research focuses on equitable revenue sharing mechanisms, equity in government expenditure, social protection, budget credibility, public participation in budgets, sub-national budget transparency, among other areas. His role also includes supporting capacity building and the publication of guides and tools that IBPK uses to improve community engagement with national and sub-national government budgets. John also plays a role in coordinating IBP’s programmatic work in Kenya, including supporting fundraising and administrative tasks.

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), an MBA in Strategic Management from the Kenya Methodist University, and a professional award on Decentralization and Local Governance from SOAS University of London.

Before joining IBP, John worked with Twaweza East Africa as an Associate Analyst, where he helped to build the Kenya Budget Explorer, a centralized budget portal, to improve citizens’ access to budget information.  He is a big data enthusiast, a happy bee farmer, and a part-time historian.

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