A Fair Share of the Budget: Principles and Practices in Public Resource Distribution in Kenya

Publication Type: Papers
August 2016 | by John Kinuthia and Jason Lakin, Ph.D. , IBP Kenya

Principles & Practices : Public Resource Distribution in KenyaKenya’s 2010 constitution sought to establish a fairer way of managing public finance, stating that “expenditure shall promote the equitable development of the country, including by making special provision for marginalized groups and areas.” How to achieve a fair and equitable system for distributing resources, however, remains hotly contested.

This paper investigates what is actually meant by equity and fairness when it comes to sharing public resources. It reviews five principles – need, minimum shares, capacity, effort, and efficiency – that are generally considered in global discussions on fairness and looks at how these principles can be applied to distributing resources in Kenya. The paper builds on this analysis to review how resources are currently shared in Kenya through mechanisms such as the National Government Constituency Development Fund, various cash transfer programs, the Equalization Fund, and allocations for Level 5 Hospitals. It then looks at how public resources are distributed in India and South Africa, drawing lessons from these examples.

The paper concludes by identifying numerous gaps in current practices that policymakers should consider when debating how best to share resources in line with the spirit of Kenya’s 2010 constitution.