CSO – Government Collaboration: The Case Of The Citizens Budget 2011/2012.

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The Ministry of Finance committed itself to producing a citizen’s budget in December 2010 at a PER session.

They undertook to prepare the Citizens budget in collaboration with Policy Forum’s Budget Working Group (BWG), which had produced one the previous year. The purpose of the Citizens budget is to make budget information more accessible and digestible to the ordinary citizen. Following this, the BWG started following-up on the commitment by way of phone calls and letters. Communication with the Ministry of Finance started early in February but it was not until June that we received a response from the Ministry of Finance. The response was to the effect that a team had been nominated to undertake the task and that the names of the team would be communicated to us so that working sessions would begin immediately. This did not happen.

In view of this, follow-ups continued throughout July and August but it was not until early September that actual preparations started. The team from the Ministry of Finance got together and organized sessions at which the citizens budget would be prepared. The BWG was invited to four working sessions at which, together with the team from the Ministry of Finance, they sat, prepared and finalized the Citizens Budget template. The BWG had planned to have the citizen’s budget ready for circulation in September, but this was not possible owing to the late commencement of the working sessions as well as the fact that the template had to undergo internal reviews before it could be sent to the printers. The review process took until the end of November 2011 after which the Ministry of Finance informed us that they were only able to print five thousand copies hence defeating the whole purpose of producing the document.

The original plan was to produce about forty thousand copies. To sort out the shortage, Policy Forum solicited funds from the Ireland Embassy to procure the printing of fifty thousand copies in Kiswahili in December. Upon successful acquisition of the funds early in January 2012, copies of the citizen’s budget were published and sent to the Ministry of Finance while others were circulated to CSOs and the public.