The National Treasury held a public participation forum in Kilifi to gather opinions from citizens for the financial year 2024/2025 and medium-term budgets. In a forum held at Kilifi town, members of the public and other stakeholders were given an opportunity to identify economic, developmental, and social challenges they encountered and propose interventions from the national government. The challenges needed to be presented in order of priority status to help in resource allocation during the national government budgetary process. Kilifi County Commissioner Josphat Biwott reiterated that the budget is a key instrument for the execution of government economic policies and a reflection of the people’s collective priorities, shared values, and vision for a better tomorrow. He emphasized the importance of public participation, saying that it is an essential component of a healthy and vibrant democracy that ensures that the decisions made are just and well-informed. ‘The process of public participation is not a mere formality, but an essential component of a healthy, vibrant democracy. It ensures that decisions made at these forums are informed, just, and representative of the diverse voices that make up our society’, the CC said. He urged the people to actively participate in the discussions and do so in a civil manner, respecting each other’s views. The Commissioner also expressed his hope that the forum would create an avenue for active dialogue and a chance for those who have been marginalized to speak out and be heard. ‘I hope that this forum will create avenues for dialogue, to actively listen and to amplify the perspectives of those who may not have means or platform to speak out on their own’, he said. Residents from the 9 sub-counties made presentations of the challenges they faced in their areas and proposed interventions for the identified challenges. Said Mwakalu, representing Kaloleni sub-county residents appealed to the national government to reinstate free education saying the burden of school fees is too big for parents. He also asked allocation of funds to improve the infrastructure of the road from Mariakani to Kaloleni by installing speed bumps to curb the rate of road accidents in that area. ‘We have had 4 people lose their lives to road accidents in that area within the last 3 weeks. The government should improve infrastructure through the installation of bumps to curb accidents on that road’, he said. Moses Baya from Kilifi North sub-county expressed the need for the construction of industries in the county so that local farm products like cashew nuts and mangoes can be processed in the county. He also presented the need for the government to construct and equip modern classrooms in the county to improve the quality of learning for the students and teachers. A statement released by Principal Secretary of the State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Shadrack Mwadime emphasized that the public participation forum marked an important milestone in the history of budget making in the country. ‘This marks a very important milestone in the history of budget-making for the country. The only time such consultations were done at the grassroots level was in the preparation of the financial year 2011-2012 budget. Subsequently, we have not had that opportunity’, the PS said. He further said that public participation, good governance, integrity, transparency, accountability, and sustainable development are some of the key national values and principles of governance that are recognized in the Constitution of Kenya. He expressed his hope that the outcome of the forum would foster a sense of ownership and belonging to the budget process among citizens.
Source: Kenya News Agency