What is Fair? Sharing Resources in Kenya.

When we talk about making people more equal, we don’t usually mean making them exactly the same. Most people believe that we are all different and so there will always be some differences in our lives and outcomes. Usually, we want to minimize differences in people’s opportunities, but allow differences that result from people’s choices.

Sharing national resources is hard. But it must be done, and it must be based on some set of widely accepted principles. Experts who drafted Kenya’s 2010 Constitution gave the main job for thinking about these issues to a new constitutional body called the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA). The CRA is supposed to make recommendations. These recommendations should help to guide a wide public debate about how best to share resources.

But while the 2010 constitution says in many places that resources should be shared fairly, it does not say what that means. How do we know if something is fair or not? What do we mean by a fair share? This is not a theoretical question. Although the constitution does not define fairness or equity clearly, it does provide for an annual process of resource sharing that is to be guided by fairness. This process is to be led by the CRA that makes recommendations on how to share revenues between national and county governments, and among the 47 counties. These recommendations must be debated in Parliament, potentially amended, and then approved.

This International Budget Partnership (IBP) publication, produced with support from Twaweza, discusses principles of fairness in revenue sharing between different levels of government in Kenya. While the brief focuses on Kenya, the principles are relevant to any country with a revenue sharing formula (i.e., many federal and devolved systems). The briefs use examples from Kenya, South Africa, and India to discuss broad principles of fairness related to needs, capacities, and effort, as well as additional principles specific to the design of revenue sharing mechanisms. 

Read more: budget International Budget Partnership Kenya



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