Come out and give views on Nairobi’s budget
One of the fundamental objectives that the Constitution makers had in mind when they set up 47 county governments was to bring development closer to the people.
They envisaged a process where citizens would be closely involved in development — from planning to implementation — with public participation guaranteed by the law.
It is therefore of paramount importance that Nairobi residents turn up in large numbers at Charter Hall Monday morning to have their views heard on a budget that will determine how their taxes will be spent for the next 12 months.
While many may assume that budgeting is an alien concept handled by economists, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Budgeting is simply deciding on the city’s most pressing needs and the order in which to tackle them.
And with City Hall having raised the cost of services, Nairobians have every right to demand value for their taxes.
The County Treasury may view some projects as important, but it is mwananchi who know where the shoe pinches and it does not necessarily follow that the county economist will prioritise your broken street lights, non-existent road or lack of sewer line.
In the 2013/14 financial year, the county slashed the development budget by Sh3 billion. This is an opportunity to know why such a small amount of your taxes are used for development; a chance to demand that City Hall raise the development budget to 40 or 50 per cent.
Ultimately, the county is run by politicians and when given free rein with public funds, they tend to forget what are the people’s priorities.
While it’s commendable that the Assembly set up the Ward Development Fund, a recent Jubilee-Cord feud over who gets to chair the relevant committee is an illustration of how politics gets in the way of good planning.
The County Fiscal Strategy Paper sets aside Sh7.8 billion for the development budget. For a city like Nairobi, this is a drop in the ocean for the massive infrastructure needs.
It means that extra vigilance and prudence is needed even as we carefully pick the most urgent needs.
For this sole reason, you need to attend the forum and make sure that we budget for what we need and what gives us maximum value.