PUBLIC REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE IN KENYA - History Form 4 Notes

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Public finance refers to revenue and expenditure of the national and county government.



Principles that Govern the Use of Public Finance in Kenya

  1. The principle of openness and accountability. There shall be public participation in financial matters.
  2. The public finance system should promote an equitable society, and in particular the burden of taxation should be shared fairly.
  3. Revenue raised nationally should be shared equitably among national and county governments.
  4. Expenditure of public finance should promote the equitable development of the country, including making special provision for marginalized groups and areas.
  5. The burdens and benefits of the use of resources and public borrowing should be shared equitably between present and future generations.
  6. Public money should be used in a prudent and responsible way.
  7. There should be responsible financial management accompanied by clear fiscal reporting to ensure effective use of public funds.


National Budget

The national budget is a comprehensive statement that gives an estimate of public revenue, expenditure and financial plans for a given financial year for a government.

Components of the National and County Governments’ Budgets in Kenya

  1. Estimates of revenue and expenditure, differentiating between recurrent and development expenditure.
  2. Proposals for financing any anticipated deficit for the period to which they apply.
  3. Proposals regarding borrowing and other forms of public liability that will increase public debt during the following year.

The Process of Budget Preparation and Implementation in Kenya

Three months before the end of each financial year, the head of each department or State organ submits estimates of revenues and expenditures for the following year to the secretary for finance.

Two months before the end of each financial year, the Cabinet Secretary for finance submits to the National Assembly estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the national government for the following financial year. He also submits a detailed national fiscal, monetary and development plan for a period of three years prepared by him in collaboration with the Secretary responsible for planning and national development.

The estimates include estimates for expenditure from the Equalization Fund. The National Assembly then considers the estimates submitted together with the estimates submitted by the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary. Before the National Assembly considers the estimates of revenue and expenditure, a committee of the Assembly will discuss and review the estimates and make recommendations to the Assembly.Committee makes its recommendations to the National Assembly.

When the estimates have been approved by the National Assembly, there will be an Appropriation Bill, introduced into the National Assembly to authorize the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of the money needed for the expenditure.

The Appropriation Bill will not include expenditures that are charged on the Consolidated Fund. The process of Budget preparation and implementation in a county government. Further reading about this is encouraged.



Sources of Public Revenue

Sources of finance for National Government

Domestic Revenue Sources

These are the taxes levied on citizens, private and public organizations, foreign investors and business people.

There are two main groups of taxes;

  1. Direct taxes.
  2. Indirect taxes.

Direct taxes (Income tax)

These are taxes derived from people’s salaries in form of income tax.

Indirect taxes

These are taxes levied on goods and services but with parliamentary approval. They include;

  1. Value-added tax; an indirect sales tax paid on specific goods such as sugar, bread, petroleum products, clothes, electronic equipment and motor vehicles.
  2. Customs duties:- there are duties on imported goods such as motor vehicles, machinery, fertilizer, sugar, wheat, electronics, luxury goods, etc.
  3. Excise tax; this is charged on locally produced goods that are sold within the country .
  4. Export Duty; the duty charged on locally produced goods such as textiles, coffee, tea, soda ash and pyrethrum which are exported.
  5. Trading Licenses;
  6. Sales Stamp Duty; on entertainment services, betting, casino and premium bonds.
  7. Traffic Revenue tax; levied on various categories of traffic services. E.g., the Road Maintenance Levy, the driver’s licence, Airport tax by air passengers.
  8. Investment Revenue; earned from parastatal and other profit making bodies that remit profits through the treasury.
  9. Loan interest receipts. Collection of taxes from parastatals like AFC, KTDA, KPC, NCPB and KCB.
  10. Land Rates.
  11. House rates.
  12. Fees; paid in terms of timber levies, CO2 levies and mining fees.
  13. Court Fines
  14. Borrowing (under laid down law or procedure).
  15. Tourism fess

External Revenue Sources

There are two main sources of external assistance;

  1. Bilateral Aid; where two friendly nations assist each other. E.g. Kenya and Japan
  2. Multilateral Aid; many countries form trading blocs or global institutions like World Bank, IMF, European Union and commonwealth for this purpose.

Sources of finance for County Governments

  1. The main source of funding for many counties is their equitable share from 15% of the national budget.
  2. Conditional and unconditional grants. Unconditional Grants are funds allocated by the national government without conditions regarding their use. Conditional grants are the funds allocated by the national government for funding of specific projects and programmes. They include;
    • The Equalization Fund for provision of basic services like water, health services, electricity and roads in marginalized areas.
    • The Contingencies Fund to carter for urgent and unforeseen circumstances
  3. Counties’ own revenues. Counties have the power to collect property rates, impose taxes on entertainment, and impose fees and charges for services they render to people and any other tax that Parliament permits them to impose.
  4. Borrowing, where the national government guarantees the loan or with the approval of the county assembly.
  5. Grants and donations


Factors that Determine Equitable Sharing of Public Finance

  1. The national interest.
  2. Any provision that must be made in respect of the public debt and other national obligations.
  3. The needs of the national government, determined by objective criteria.
  4. The need to ensure that county governments are able to perform the functions allocated to them.
  5. The fiscal capacity and efficiency of county governments.
  6. Developmental and other needs of counties.
  7. Economic disparities within and among counties and the need to remedy them.
  8. The need for affirmative action in respect of disadvantaged areas and groups.
  9. The need for economic optimization of each county and to provide incentives for each county to optimize its capacity to raise revenue.
  10. The desirability of stable and predictable allocations of revenue.
  11. The need for flexibility in responding to emergencies and other temporary needs.


Regulations that Govern Imposition of Taxes and Charges in Kenya.

  1. Only the national government may impose Income tax, Value-added tax, Customs duties and other duties on import and export goods; and excise tax.
  2. An Act of Parliament may authorize the national government to impose any other tax or duty.
  3. A county may impose property rates, entertainment taxes, and any other tax that it is authorized to impose by an Act of Parliament.
  4. The national and county governments may impose charges for services.
  5. The taxation and other revenue-raising powers of a county should not be exercised in a way that prejudices national economic policies, economic activities across county boundaries or the national mobility of goods, services, capital or labour.
  6. No tax or licensing fee may be imposed, waived or varied except as provided by legislation.
  7. If permitted, a public record of each waiver shall be maintained together with the reason for the waiver; and each waiver, and the reason for it, should be reported to the Auditor-General.
  8. No law may exclude or authorize the exclusion of a State officer from payment of tax.


The revenue collected by the government is deposited into the following funds;

Equalization Fund;

This is a Fund specially established by the National government, to provide basic services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalized areas to the extent necessary to bring the quality of those services in those areas to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the nation.

Consolidated Fund

This is the fund into which all the money raised or received by the national government is paid. Money set aside by parliament for specific purpose and money set aside by state organs to take care of their expenses is however not deposited in this fund.

Contingencies Fund;

This is a fund from which advances will be made if the secretary for finance is convinced that there is an urgent matter that needs funding and for which there is no other provisions.

Revenue Funds

This is a fund for each county into which all the money raised or received by the county government is paid.



Expenditure of Public Revenue

There are two ways in which the national government spends its revenue.

Capital Expenditure

 The money set aside in the national budget for development projects.

Recurrent Expenditure

– The money used by the government to sustain and maintain the existing facilities.

How the national government spends its money under recurrent expenditure.

  1. The government remunerates its employees through regular payment of salaries and wages.
  2. The expenditure is also used to maintain public property throughout the country by allocating necessary funds to roads, airports, colleges, school text book provision and bridge maintenance.
  3. The money is also used to service debts from international donor agencies and local financial institutions.
  4. The money is also used to contribute to regional and international organizations like COMESA, AU, UN and Commonwealth.
  5. It is used to provide grants to counties and parastatals, and bursaries to schools and colleges.
  6. The money is also used to maintain Kenyan embassies abroad.

County Government Expenditure

County governments spend their monies in the following ways;

  1. Provision of basic social services like water, health facilities, electricity and cemeteries.
  2. The money from its recurrent expenditure is used to pay wages and salaries to its employees.
  3. The counties spend their money to some extend to control air and noise pollution, and also on refuse removal and solid waste disposal.
  4. Money is used to finance development of roads, parking facilities, ferries and street lighting, develop entertainment, sporting, trading and cultural facilities.
  5. In repair maintenance and improvement of public facilities like roads, health facilities, markets, libraries, housing etc.
  6. Some money is set aside as emergency utility for fire fighting services and disaster management.
  7. The counties use their money to service the borrowed funds plus the interest accrued.
  8. They also use money to provide early childhood education through development of nursery schools. They also develop village polytechnics and home craft training centres.

Ways through which proper management of public finances by national government is ensured in Kenya.

  1. Any national governments expenditure by state departments or state organs must be approved by parliament which acts as the public watchdog.
  2. The controller of budget oversees the implementation of the national budget by authorizing legal withdrawals from public funds such as the equalization fund, consolidated fund and contingencies fund
  3. The controller of budget submits to each house of parliament report on the implantation of the budget of the nationa l government.
  4. Where a state organ or any other public body fails to adhere to the laid down procedures of expenditure, the cabinet secretary for finance, with the approval of parliament, may stop the transfer of funds to the body.
  5. There is constant auditing of accounts and financial records of all government and other public bodies.
  6. Every public body has a n accounting officer who is accountable to the national assembly for the financial management of the public body.
  7. The auditor general audits all accounts of all government and state organs.
  8. The government has put up policies related to procurement which is supposed to be fair, transparent, competitive and cost effective. to regulate public procurement, various bodies have been set up. e.g the public procurement oversight authority (PPOA), the public procurement administrative review board (PPARB)
  9. The government has also imposed sanctions against contractors who fail to fulfil their contractual agreements either by failing to complete jobs or by doing sh oddy work.
  10. Sanctions are to be imposed against those persons who fail to pay their taxes, or engage in corrupt practices.
  11. All government contracts are publicly advertised for awarding of tenders and awards.
  12. The government established the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) in 2004 which has the function of investigating corrupt cases in a non-partisan manner.

Management and expenditure of public finances in County Governments

  1. In every county, there is established a revenue fund where all funds, (includ ing the county’s own revenues, transfers from national revenues, grants and borrowed funds) are consolidated.
  2. Money from this fund is only withdrawn following specific procedures authorized by parliament or by county laws.
  3. County governments must operate financial management systems that comply with all requirements of national legislation.
  4. The county assembly must vote on the budget and approve expenditure by various departments of the county.
  5. The county treasury must seek quarterly approvals from the controller of budget for withdrawal from the revenue fund based on the needs of the county.
  6. The accounting officer of a county organ or public body is accountable to the county assembly for the financial management of the public body.
  7. Each county has a county accountant general who maintains financial records of all the funds withdrawn from the revenue fund, and expenditure incurred.
  8. Apart from the internal audits in every county, the auditor general audits the accounts of the county governments and submits reports to the relevant county assembly.

The Controller of Budget

Role of the controller of budget

  1. He or she oversees the implementation of the budgets of the national and county governments.
  2. He or she authorizes withdrawals from the public funds such as the Equalization, Consolidated and Revenue Funds.
  3. he or she submits to each house of parliament, every four months, a report on the implementation of the budgets of both national and county government

Auditor General

Read on this

The Commission on Revenue Allocation

The Commission consists of;

  1. A chairperson.
  2. One nominee of each regional assembly.
  3. Two persons to represent county governments.
  4. Two persons nominated by the National Assembly.
  5. The Principal Secretary in the Ministry responsible for finance.
  6. The Controller of Budget.

Functions of the commission of Revenue Allocation

  1. He is responsible for determining the basis for the equitable sharing of revenue from national resources between the national government and the various levels of devolved government.
  2. It makes recommendations on matters concerning the financing, and financial management by county governments
  3. It determines and regularly reviews a policy that set out the criteria by which to identify the marginalized areas.
  4. It defines and enhances the revenue sources of the national and county governments.
  5. It submits its recommendations to the senate, national assembly, the national executive, county assemblies and county executives.
  6. It mediates in and determines disputes relating to financial arrangem ents between the national government and devolved governments.

Functions of Central Bank

  1. Promote and maintain the stability of the value of the currency of the Republic.
  2. Issue notes and coins.
  3. Act as banker and financial adviser of the Government.
  4. Conduct the monetary policy of the Government in a manner consistent with the relevant provisions of the law in the interest of the balanced and sustainable economic growth of the Republic.
  5. Encourage and promote economic development and the efficient utilization of the resources of the Republic, through effective and efficient operation of a banking and credit system.

Why the Economic and Social Council was Established in Kenya

  1. To advise the national government and Parliament on matters of economic and social concern to the people of the Republic.
  2. To advise the national government on the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strategic economic and social policies.
  3. To consider and report to Parliament on the economic and social implications of all Bills and budgetary proposals introduced in Parliament.
  4. To monitor progress in the improvement of the living standards of the people of Kenya, particularly those of the poor and the disadvantaged.

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