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Treasury invites Kenyans to ‘tweet’ their budget views

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The government is encouraging the use of social media as a means of gathering views on formulation of the annual budget. Photo/FILE

The government is encouraging the use of social media as a means of gathering views on formulation of the annual budget. Photo/FILE  

By Kui Kinyanjui

Posted  Monday, May 9  2011 at  00:00

Kenyan citizens will for the first time contribute to the formulation of the National Budget using social media technology, as part of a strategic push by the government develop a more inclusive document under the new constitution.

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Hoping to include a more comprehensive snapshot of the concerns of citizens, the Ministry of Finance has called on Kenyan to give their views using the social media website Twitter.

On Friday, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta sent out a request to his over 3,700 followers on the website and Facebook to contribute their views on what they would like to see included in the Budget.

Citing Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya, which recognizes inclusiveness as part of the National Values and Principles of governance, the Minister said he was pursuing a more inclusive means of formulating the document

“I would thus like to encourage you all to participate in this most crucial process by giving your suggestions, ideas and proposals on the interventions or actions you would like to see in your budget,” he said in a statement.

Within three hours, more than 300 people had submitted responses to the Treasury using an online document that asked questions like which sectors should get funding and how the government could increase its tax intake.

“As we establish the fiscal priorities of the country, I feel that there is still room for a more inclusive process that will allow us to factor in your priorities to a greater extent than before,” said Mr Kenyatta.

Energy and healthcare issues seemed to dominate feedback sent to the ministry, with respondents debating online on the best means to get more power to rural areas and how to make the use of healthcare facilities affordable.

“Going through some of the ideas you have sent in. I must say I’m quite impressed by the creativity and innovation. Please keep them coming. We anticipate that your submissions will also enable the government to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, create employment and reduce poverty,” Mr Kenyatta said.

Traditionally, the budgetary process in Kenya proceeds through four main stages.

First, the Ministry collects views of stakeholders, which are then presented in a draft.

The draft is then taken through the legislation stage, and finally, the implementation and audit stage.