The Role of the Controller of Budget in Kenya
The role of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is crucial in public finances. The Office of the Controller of Budget is one of the mechanisms that enhance accountability in the expenditure of public resources.
The Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is an independent office. The other independent office is the office of the Auditor General in Kenya.
Article 228 of the Kenyan Constitution establishes the Office of the Controller of Budget. The Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB) oversees the implementation of the national and county government budgets.
The office exercises the oversight by authorizing withdrawals from public funds.
The holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is entitled the Controller of Budget (COB). The person serves for a non-renewable term of eight years. They are not eligible for re-appointment thereafter.
The president nominates the person to hold the office. However, the National Assembly must approve the person before the president appoints them. The person should have extensive knowledge of public finance or 10 years in auditing public finance management.
The role of the Controller of Budget in Kenya is as follows:
This role involves overseeing the implementation of the budgets of both national and county governments. The Controller of Budget in this role, therefore, monitors the use of public funds in-year and reports to Parliament on how the funds have been utilized.
The Controller of Budget performs this role through the controlling role.
The controlling function involves authorizing withdrawals from public funds. Before authorizing any withdrawal from Public funds, the Controller of Budget must first be satisfied that the said withdrawal is authorized by law, as per Article 228 (5) of the Constitution.
(5) The Controller shall not approve any withdrawal from a public fund unless satisfied that the withdrawal is authorised by law. [Constitution of Kenya.Article 228(5)
Public funds include the: –
- Equalisation Fund (Article 204 of Kenyan Constitution);
- Consolidated Fund (Article 206); and
- County Revenue Fund (Article 207).
This role entails the preparation of quarterly, annual and special reports to the legislature and executive on budget implementation matters of the national and county governments as provided by law according to (Article 228 (6) of) the Constitution.
The type of reports include but are not limited to:
- Quarterly Reports on Budget Implementation to the Executive and Parliament – Article 228 (6).
- Annual Reports on Budget Implementation to the President and Parliament – Article 254 (1).
- Special Reports to the President and Parliament – Article 254 (2), investigation reports (Article 254 (2)) and reports on stoppage of funds for governments units as per Article 225 of the Constitution.
- Arbitration or Mediation Reports to Parliament on matters relating to Budget Implementation – Article 225 (7a) Article 252 (1a & 1b).
- Performance reports for the activities of Office of Controller of Budget.
- And any other report on Budget implementation that may be required.
To ensure transparency all the reports must be published and publicized as per Article 254 (3) which states that “Every report required from a commission or holder of an independent office under this Article shall be published and publicized”.
You can find some of these reports on the Controller of Budget’s website.
This function involves giving advice to Parliament on financial matters where a Cabinet Secretary has stopped the transfer of funds to a State organ or public entity. The suspension of funds cannot be lifted or sustained before the Controller of Budget gives a report to Parliament.
The Office of the Controller of Budget is expected to investigate the matter regarding the financial performance of a State organ or entity after which it should prepare and present a report on the matter to Parliament which will be used to approve or renew the decision to stop transfer of funds to a State organ or public entity as provided for under Article 225 (7) of the Constitution.
(7) Parliament may not approve or renew a decision to stop the transfer of funds unless — (a) the Controller of Budget has presented a report on the matter to Parliament; and (b) the public entity has been given an opportunity to answer the allegations against it, and to state its case, before the relevant parliamentary committee.Constitution of Kenya – Article 225(7)
The Controller of Budget also gives advice to government entities on improving budget implementation e.g. low absorption of funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies and County entity. This, therefore, promotes accountability in the use of public financial resources.
Under Article 252 (1) (a) of the Constitution, the Controller of Budget (independent office) has the power to conduct investigations on its own initiative or following a complaint made by a member of the public on budget implementation matters.
252 (1) Each commission, and each holder of an independent office— (a) may conduct investigations on its own initiative or on a complaint made by a member of the public;
This role involves the dissemination of information to the public on budget implementation at both national and county levels as stipulated under section 39(8) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. This role is buttressed by Article 35 of the Constitution which provides that the public has the right to access any information held by the state.
(1) Every citizen has the right of access to — (a) information held by the State; andConstitution of Kenya – Article 35
(b) information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.
(2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person.
(3) The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation.
Further, the Constitution sets out public participation as one of the principles guiding public financial management (Article 201 (a)).
The following principles shall guide all aspects of public finance in the Republic —Constitution of Kenya – Article 201(a)
(a) there shall be openness and accountability, including public participation in financial matters;
The Controller of Budget under Article 252(1) (b) of the Constitution has powers for conciliation, mediation and negotiation.
(1) Each commission, and each holder of an independent office — (a) may conduct investigations on its own initiative or on a complaint made by a member of the public; (b) has the powers necessary for conciliation, mediation and negotiation;Constitution of Kenya – Article 252(1) (b)
The Mediation role may involve the resolution of conflicts between the national government and the county government, or between county governments with respect to budget implementation. This role involves conducting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve disputes relating to budget implementation.
The holder of the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya can leave office within the grounds found in Article 251 of the Constitution. These grounds are-
- serious violation of the Constitution or any other law. This includes contravention of Chapter Six (on Leadership and Integrity),
- gross misconduct, whether in the performance of their functions or otherwise,
- physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office,
- incompetence, or
For more about the Office of the Controller of Budget in Kenya, visit their website at cob.go.ke.