It is coming to that time again when we all turn on our TV’s, switch on our radios, grab the daily newspaper and keenly get involved in the National and County budgets. This is the one time for many when they actually voice their opinion as the details of the budget are shared. Yes, we do share our opinions but only in the comfort of our houses as we watch or in our offices as we listen to the radio and complain about how the price of milk has gone up again. But did you know, you can actually have a say before the budget is read out in June.
A few years back, citizen participation was not a norm. Budget making was seen as a secretive process and the only people expected to participate in it were the few senior civil servants at the Ministry of Finance and Planning. With the introduction of the new Constitution in 2010 citizen participation was made easier.
Though the constitution has made public participation easier, many citizens are either unaware of their right to participate or are not willing to participate. This is very unfortunate because as a tax payer, you should have a say in where your taxes are going to. That is why we started the People’s Budget.
The People’s Budget was first launched in 2006 by Hakijamii in collaboration with Nairobi People’s Settlements Network and Muungano wa Wanavijiji. Last year, in collaboration with our partners, we brought together over 500 residents from informal settlements in Nairobi and other counties to launch the People’s Budget 2015/2016. We organized build up meetings in Mombasa, Machakos, Nairobi, Kisumu and Kakamega. Through these meetings, we were able to give people an opportunity to discuss the issues they would want seen prioritized in the government’s budget. The People’s budget is one of the best ways of ensuring that your voice is heard.
As a citizen you are able to provide input into consultation through direct participation, through representatives and through written comment. It is not possible for all citizens to have their voices heard so you can write your opinions or have an organization like Hakijamii represent your views in public forums.
As we count down to the Budget reading, as a tax payer and a responsible citizen, take the time to learn more about the budget and the budget process. Look out for public forum adverts in the newspaper, if possible attend them and if not share your views with institutions that are able to voice your opinions. Instead of sitting still and only complaining about the prices of commodities once a year, get active and participate. Join us in spreading this word by using the #PeoplesBudgetKE2016, follow us on Twitter (@hakijamiitrust) and Facebook (HakijamiiESRC).
Dear citizen, you have a voice, use it to make our Kenya better.