By Livingstone Nyando
This August 2022, the country will be electing the fifth President of the Republic. Once elected the budget cycle will start immediately. One of the pillars of stability for a country is its police. Successive governments, starting with the colonial one have time immemorial (mis)used the police to achieve their own vested interest. One area they have used to control the police has always been their budget. The Executive arm of the government has refused to let go its arm in the budget.
The National Police Service (NPS) is established under Article 243 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya (CoK) as one of the three organs of National Security. Article 245(1)(b) of the same constitution requires that the National Police Service to be under the independent command of the Inspector General of Police (IG). Section 10(1)d of the National Police Service Act requires the Inspector General to prepare budget estimates and prepare the policing plan before the end of the financial year setting out priorities and objectives of the service.
It is disappointing that currently this is not the case as both budgeting and auditing of the NPS is done under the Ministry of Interior and Citizen Services. Which begs the question why is the Ministry of Interior hell-bent in refusing to let go the police budget? This has had consequences in the autonomy and accountability of resources allocated to the NPS. The National Police Service Act establishes the funds of the National Police Service and states that the National Assembly (NA) shall allocate adequate funds to enable the service perform its functions. The NPS funds includes monies allocated by the NA for purposes of the Service and such other monies as may be lawfully granted, donated or lent to the service from any other source, with the approval of the NA and the Cabinet Secretary (CS) responsible for Finance.
The Inspector General of Police (IG) is required by the law to ensure that every police station, post, outposts, unit, unit base and county authority is allocated sufficient funds to finance its activities. This is however not the case. A simple visit to any police station in the country will prove to you that there is no adequate allocation to the police stations. Allocation of adequate resources is critical for optimal performance of the service. There is a big relationship between resource allocations to policing institutions versus performance of functions since where police operate under limited resources, it translates to weak operational structures and preparedness.
Looking at the trend in the proportions of recurrent versus development budgets in the last five years, it is evident that recurrent spending has been prioritized over development spending. This is evidenced in the increase in the proportion of recurrent spending (95% in 2020/21) which means that out of every Ksh 100 allocation, Ksh 5 was for development expenses and Ksh 95 was for recurrent. This is in itself goes against Article 15 2 (a) of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act Act 2012 which requires that at least 30% of the budget should be set aside for development. It is in this breath, that members of the public have to implore on the National Government Community Development Fund (NG-CDF) to fund the construction of police stations.
One of the key recommendation is that there is need for internal budget rationalization and realignment. A decrease in the allocations for development has a medium-term effect such as continued dilapidation of facilities and lack of critical equipment which hampers quality public service delivery. On the recurrent side, at least 80% of the Budget allocation for 2020/21 constitutes Salaries and Allowances. This implies that the allocation for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) is under 20%. O&M is a key component of the budget in terms of facilitating efficient service delivery. The low allocation for the (O&M) is partly associated with the findings by the IPOA assessment report in which besides the complaints from the members of the public that featured those related to lack of or poor facilities, most were related to inadequate funding for Operations and Maintenance. These include lack of funds to facilitate community policing, lack of training on children matters, lack of photocopiers and inadequate training by officers on ICT.
There is need for enhanced autonomy of the Inspector General of Police, in terms of the budget of the National Police Service as stipulated in Article 245 (2) (b) of the of the Constitution of Kenya which provides that the IG shall exercise independent command of the service. Independent command includes the policy, setting of priorities, management and accountability of resources. The National Police Service Act of 2011 in Section 10 (1)(e) requires the IG to prepare budgetary estimates and develop a policy plan before the end of each financial year setting out priorities and objectives of the service and the justification thereof. This will also have a significant bearing on addressing challenges on the adequacy of police budgets since it would provide more room for alignment of funds to priority areas within the Service.
As we await the reading of the budget statement by Treasury CS, it will be prudent that the National Assembly ensures the itemization of the development budget across police stations and divisions. The data should be disaggregated at the county level and published and publicized to facilitate oversight and public participation. The IG should ensure that the policing objectives guide the budgeting of resources available to the police. The objectives in the Budget Policy Statement should take into account views from the members of the public and empirical evidence utilizing crime data, and existing policing infrastructure among others in determining the budget allocation. The National Assembly should ensure that the objectives in the Budget Policy Statement and key performance indicators are implemented to the letter.