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Why the President of Kenya Needs a Budget Office

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Why the President of Kenya Needs a Budget Office

Office of the President at Harambee House in Nairobi. PHOTO | SKILLED EVANS | NMG


  • The enormous public finance tragedy of our time is how Kenyan budgeting leaves the president at the center of budget planning and execution.
  • It appears that under the current regime, bad councils have limited the president’s vast powers from the agenda that voters expressed by voting for him solely to the regular issuance of Executive Orders and Memoranda.

Despite Kenya’s adoption of a presidential system of government under the 2010 Constitution, where a president campaigns on a socio-economic agenda and is elected by the people to exercise power on their behalf, a widespread misconception persists about ambiguity. or the dilution of powers to use public power. resources towards the agenda.

At this intersection of politics and economics, voters confer the assignment on the president. But with reluctance, the National Treasury regularly fills the gap, bypassing the president in drawing up budgets and supplemental budgets to focus its interactions with Parliament. The current budget 2021-22 is illustrative.

While Parliament, the legislative branch, is served in the preparation of the budget and public finances by a non-partisan and competent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), equivalent, for example, to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of High standing in the US budget process, the executive appears committed to the arm’s length budget.

The results are revealing. It does not matter other scruples. Parliamentarians still offer a decent voice on public finance issues and ultimately pass the Appropriations Act, the legal power to spend public resources drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

The enormous public finance tragedy of our time is how Kenyan budgeting leaves the president at the center of budget planning and execution.

It is a vital omission in professional budgeting processes within the executive branch of government. It supports public servants who divert resources through corruption, incompetence, misallocation, ineptitude, and waste. And it allows them to get away with it.

With a presidential system, budget execution is normally aligned to deliver on the pre-election agenda promises to Wanjiku. The executive needs a strong counterpart for the PBO.

It appears that under the current regime, bad councils have limited the president’s vast powers from the agenda that voters expressed by voting for him solely to the regular issuance of Executive Orders and Memoranda.

It is a monumental mistake for our democracy that even orders and memoranda regularly fall short and go wrong, if rejections from the judiciary are something to be followed.

The catalog of government failures in public finances in the last decade seems perpetrated through this omission where the legislative branch has better access to experience than the executive branch.

As in the days before the 2010 Constitution, a challenged National Treasury and some comedians in the Executive (you can only find expert economists if you look hard enough) still set the pace for budgeting.


The fact is that they seem content to leave the blame for the use or misuse of resources in budget execution to the executive. That is why the president laments the theft of the public coffers at the rate of 2 billion shillings a day, while apparently he has no answers for his voters and has no power to stop the rot.

However, he presented his preeminent solution and a stamp for the budget problems on November 23, 2015.

The President expressly requested the establishment of an Office of Management and Budget (OMB), stating:

“I entrust the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Public Service to design an Office of Management and Budget under the Presidency. The Presidency will produce a President’s Budget in collaboration with the Parliamentary Budget Office, ”said President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“This will ensure that I direct priorities, monitor and reduce influence peddling in budgeting, while ministries and departments focus on implementation and service delivery. I am of the opinion, fellow Kenyans, that we in government should take better care of your money before we ask you for more taxes. “

He saw the Office of Management and Budget as an important cog in a public finance system that values ​​accountability. The personnel office is responsible for assisting the president in carrying out his constitutional duties.

In the ideal design, OMB helps the Executive not only to issue appropriate and legal executive orders and memoranda, but to use powers that extend to four other axes of authority in public finance:

Budget formulation and execution, management of the tax system, regulatory review and legislative authorization and coordination.

Above all, the Office of Administration and Budget helps the head of state to organize debates that involve Parliament, advised by the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Executive, advised by the Office of Administration and Budget, which finally take advantage of the necessary experience to conclude the Allocations Law and sets the pace of supervision of budget execution.

The staff of the Office of Management and Budget are career experts from the Office of the President, and most provide neutral and humble competencies.

Very small percentages are political appointments. Your job is to save money and improve efficiency in routine government activities.

To digress, America’s first OMB Director General Dawes famously stated:

“As much as we love the president, if Congress, in its omnipotence over appropriations, and in accordance with its authority over policy, were to pass a law requiring trash to be deposited on the steps of the White House, it would be our duty. unfortunate … to advise the Executive and Congress on how the greatest amount of garbage can be spread in the most economical and economical way.

OMB responsibilities

Through the Office of Administration and Budget, the person who is elected as president can implement the agenda and control the resources for that purpose.

OMB’s key responsibilities include preparing the president’s annual budget, monitoring funds and staffing constraints, policy analysis and advising the president, managing across government, including financial management and procurement. , budget execution, monitoring and control of national government spending after annual allocation by Parliament, review and approval of all regulations and national government data compilations, review and coordination of all legislative proposals of the Executive branch, testimony – policy enforcement function, and other staff support to the President.

The entry point for the sectoral ministries in the elaboration of the budget would then be the OMB, where the president’s budget is developed, while the PBO directs its expertise to the legislature.

OMB would then review ministerial budget requests and reconcile them with the President’s agenda.

Hearings with the relevant ministries would be expected to clarify their spending and procurement plans, etc. and give them the opportunity to defend their estimates and then oversee implementation and administration.

The objective interaction is that of Parliament and the Executive to pass the budget to legislation and allocations.

Dr. Wagacha is a former Senior Economic Advisor to the Executive Office of the President and a former Acting Chairman of CBK.

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