Public Participation and Public Finance Management Performance in Embu County Government, Kenya
Nyagah, Cyrus Fundi
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The country of Kenya has undergone a transition from a centralized government to the devolved system of government with the establishment of the national government and county government units as distinct but interdependent governance entities. Despite the public participation opportunities provided by the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, PFM Act, 2012 and County Government Act, 2012, county governors have been summoned at the Senate and others have been impeached due to violation of Constitution of Kenya, 2010, PFM Act, 2012 and County Government Act, 2012. County citizens may not effectively participate in fiscal decision making due to the reasons that public finance is perceived to be a technical and complex subject area, the low capacity by citizens to safeguard their rights as well as their low levels of awareness on rights. This implies that citizen spaces are vulnerable to both elite capture as well as capture by other groups with varied interests. Therefore, the study sought to investigate the effect of public participation on public finance management performance in Embu County Government, Kenya. The study specifically sought to examine on the effect of communication and access to information, capacity of the public to participate and active involvement on public finance management performance in Embu County Government, Kenya. The study was guided by democratic theory, stakeholder theory, ladder of citizen participation theory and the new public management theory. The study employed exploratory research design. The unit of analysis was the Embu County government and the unit of observation was all adult population from the citizens of Embu County who are 608,599 individuals. Purposive sampling approach was used to select the respondents for this study. The sample size consisted of 110 respondents. Structured questionnaire was used to collect primary data. Content and construct validity was applied in measuring the validity. Cronbach alpha was used to measure the reliability. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis. The study established that communication and access to information, capacity of the public to participate and active involvement had a negative and insignificant effect on the public finance management performance in Embu County Government, Kenya. The study concluded that communication and access to information allows the public’s values to be identified and incorporated into decisions that ultimately affect them. The capacity of the public to participate leads to better governance, which includes increased democratic legitimacy for the County due to close ties with citizens, improved reputations for public bodies, increased opportunities for active citizenship, and greater accountability of public bodies due to more efficient information dissemination and better communication. Active involvement brings promotes greater capacity building and learning, including increasing awareness of and understanding of public institutions. The study recommends that the County should use a user-friendly engagement platform, encourage effective communication with citizens, develop better strategies and offer incentives to encourage participation. The County should ensure that there is active public participation in all public finance management activities and projects and that all of its citizens participate in public finance management. The study also recommends that the County can increase civic engagement by giving citizens unbiased, objective information to help them understand the issue, potential solutions, and alternatives.