EALA approves EAC Budget of USD 104 Million for Financial Year 2020/2021
East African Legislative Assembly, Arusha, Tanzania: 1 October, 2020:The East African Legislative Assembly late yesterday approved the EAC Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2020/21, amounting to USD 104,063,020, after a day-long debate via virtual conference. In the same vein, the House passed the EAC Appropriation Bill, 2020, with the said amendments, over the budget estimates of USD 97,669,708, presented last week by the Chair, Council of Ministers, Hon Nshuti Manasseh.
Under the vote, the EAC Secretariat is to receive USD 48,418,301, while the East African Legislative Assembly gets USD 23,067,137. The East African Court of Justice is expected to benefit from the kitty, earning USD 4,198,406, while USD 8,380,057 is earmarked for the Lake Victoria Basin Commission. The Assembly further approved USD 1,536,751 for the activities of the East African Science and Technology Commission, and USD 1,399,318 for the activities of the East African Kiswahili Commission.
On its part, the East African Health Research Commission is to benefit from USD 1,879,600, East African Competition Authority USD 1,128,240, the Inter-University Council for East Africa, USD 10,977,276 and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) USD 3,077,934.
Of the total approved budget, the Assembly reallocated USD 518,050 to other activities considered pertinent to the integration agenda, given the available resources.
The 2020/21 Budget was presented last week to the House by the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and State Minister for EAC, Republic of Rwanda, Hon Prof Nshuti Manasseh. The EAC Budget Speech is themed: “Stimulating the economy to safeguard livelihoods, jobs, businesses and industrial recovery.” According to the Chair of Council of Ministers, the Budget estimates (of USD 97,669, 708) were presented at a time when EAC region as well as the globe, is still reeling from the effects (and after-effects) of the Covid 19 pandemic, leading to lockdowns and a slowdown in economic activities. In his speech, the Chair of Council of Ministers reiterated the EAC Budget would complement the efforts of Partner States and Development Partners to spur economic recovery arising from the Covid19 disruptions.
The session yesterday was presided over by Hon Rose Akol, who was elected in absence of the substantive Speaker, Rt Hon Ngoga Karoli Martin.
Debate was preceded by a report of the Committee on General Purpose, presented to the House by Committee Chair, Hon Denis Namara. The report recommends among other things, the need for the Council of Ministers to adhere to the timelines for the presentation of the budget to the Assembly. Accordingly, the report states the delayed and non-remittance of funds by some Partner States, negatively impacted on the implementation of the planned programs/activities by the EAC Organs and Institutions, during the last Financial Year 2019/2020.
At the same time, the report recommends need for the contribution of each Partner State to the EAC Budget in FY 2020/21, to be reinstated to a total sum of USD 8,298,574, as was previously allocated in the last Financial Year. “This will enable the Community to raise an additional USD 2,895,124 to fund some of the unfunded priorities”, the report reads in part. Similarly, the Assembly urged the Council of Ministers to expedite the finalization of a Sustainable Financing Mechanism of the Community and to put on hold, creation of more EAC institutions, until such time, the mechanism is put in place.
Hon Namara further said it was necessary for the six plenary sessions of the Assembly to be reinstated with each session running for a duration of 21 days. This follows the decision by the Council of Ministers to reduce the number of Plenary days from 21 days to 14 days. Article 49(2)(g) of the Treaty gives the Assembly, the mandate to make its own Rules of Procedure for the effective discharge of its mandate. According to Rule 10(6) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, the House shall sit for not less than 80 days of the plenary, Hon Namara said.
The report notes progress in the implementation of various activities citing the Single Customs Territory as example, of an area, that progressed well. “The region has fully rolled out intra-region transfers on imports and direct exports and is working towards the roll out of the transit regime. The Regional Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) program facilitating clearance of goods for compliant traders was further enhanced with a total number of 115 Regional AEOs. At the same time, the operationalization of One Stop Border Posts has progressed well. In addition to the 12 operational OSBP across Partner States, in September 2019, H.E. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and H.E Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, officially launched the Tunduma One Stop Border Post (OSBP) located on the Tanzania/Zambia border”, Hon Namara told the House.
On the Constitution-making process for the EAC Political Confederation, the Constitutional Experts developed all documentation required to undertake stakeholders’ consultations at both Partner States’ and regional levels. Despite the achievements, key challenges cited in budget implementation include slow pace of implementation of the Common Market Protocol and the on-going and anticipated impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Community’s activities and economies. The postponement of technical and policy meetings of the Community, leading to delays in implementation of decisions and risks associated with un reliable disbursement of funds is also cited.
At debate time, several Members rose up in support of the Committee’s report. Hon Kennedy Kalonzo raised concern over the Community’s decision to reduce budgets of the Assembly at a time when it was making substantial progress. Hon Dr Woda Jeremiah lauded the operationalization of the One Stop Border Posts was harnessing free movement of persons and further noted the interconnectivity of the roads in the region was positive for progress. Hon Happiness Lugiko said the Single Customs Territory had continued to realise some progress reducing transport costs and promoted economic competitiveness.
Hon Abdikadir Aden called for harmonization of administrative issues surrounding recruitment at the Community, and said it was prudent for the Secretariat to table a Supplementary Budget, once the objective is achieved. He said there was need for Council to put in more investments in to the health sectors. “During this period of the Covid 19 pandemic, the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, became essential for goods. I hope we can upgrade the health facilities so that in times of pandemics, our supply routes are not interfered with”, Hon Aden said.
Hon Victor Burikukiye said the unjust sanctions imposed on the Republic of Burundi was weighing heavily on its shoulders, leading to various challenges for the concerned Partner State. “We as a Community need to condemn the sanctions”, he added. Hon Amb Ndangiza Fatuma said intra EAC trade needed to be improved. “Last financial year, the trade rose by 7%, which is good – but recently, African Union Member States ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the impending market would be one of the largest. We need more trade to reaise the dividends”, she said. We need to reduce on the Non-Tariff Barriers including those related to the COVID 19 pandemic to harness trade among our people”, Hon Amb Ndangiza added. Hon Paul Musamali said the delays in disbursement from the Partner States were a worrying trend. He added that even if all Partner States were to remit funds in time, the amount was still pegged at under 50%. He said a feasible alternative/sustainable financing mechanism was both tenable and vital.
Others who contributed were Hon Oda Gasinzigwa, Hon Wanjiku Muhia, Hon Mary Mugyenyi, Hon Maryam Ussi, Hon Lemoyan Josephine, Hon Dr Pierre Celestin Rwigema and Hon Noor Mohammed.
In his remarks, the Chair of the Council of Ministers Hon Prof Nshuti Manasseh urged the Assembly to revisit the figures and cap it at the proposed figure of USD 97,669,708 as contained in the budget speech delivered last week. The Minister remarked that given the COVID 19 pandemic, some of the expenses would not be incurred constituting savings on the one side, while the issue of under-absorption of funds on the other side, likewise needs to be taken in to consideration.
He further said Council of Ministers had tasked the EAC Secretary General to inform it on the specific sanctions to take for Partner States that failed to remit the obligatory dues in time.
Hon Nshuti said the Council of Ministers would consult on a number of matters brought forth by the Assembly (and where decisions had been taken) and revert back to the House in due course.
Earlier on, the House passed the EAC Supplementary Appropriation (No 2) Bill, 2020 that anchors the Supplementary Budget of USD 815,582, for the previous Financial Year 2019/2020, for activities of the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA).
For more information, please contact:
Senior Public Relations Officer
East African Legislative Assembly
Cell: +255-787-870945, +254-733-718036
Email: BOdiko [at] eachq.org
About the East African Legislative Assembly
The East African Legislative Assembly is the Legislative Organ of the East African Community. Its Membership consists of a total of 62, of whom 54 are elected Members (9 from each Partner State) and eight ex-officio members (the Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs from the Partner States, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community). The East African Legislative Assembly has legislative functions as well as oversight of all East African Community matters. The enactment of legislation of the Community is put in effect by means of Bills passed by the Assembly and assented to by the Heads of State, and every Bill that has been duly passed and assented to become an Act of the Community and takes precedent over similar legislations in the Partner States. EALA has to date passed over 80 pieces of legislation.