East Africa: EAC operations could stop due to budget cuts

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The East African Community risks paralysis if it does not secure additional funding on Budget Day, June 22.

The secretariat says the $ 90 million proposed in the bloc’s 2021/2022 budget by the Council of Ministers cannot finance its development program.

Among the priorities to be achieved during this exercise are the consolidation of the single customs territory; infrastructure development; improving the free movement of factors of production across partner states; regional industrial development; improvement of agricultural productivity and added value; the promotion of regional peace, security and good governance; and institutional transformation at regional and partner state levels.

The accelerating admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also facing headwinds as there are no funds for the campaign.

The EAC Regular Council of Ministers recently tabled a budget of $ 90 million, down $ 7 million from the 2020/2021 budget.

The East African Legislative Assembly said the amount was not even enough to run the secretariat, pay sitting allowances to EALA MPs and fund the activities of the Court of Justice of the United States. ‘East Africa.

“This year’s budget cannot fund the activities of the EAC,” said Denis Namara, chairman of the General Committee responsible for approving the budget, adding: “So there is a mismatch between the activities of the Council and the funds allocated “.

“The Council should seek more funds even if it means borrowing from the General Reserve to finance the activities of the EAC,” he added.

EAC ministers called on EAC General Secretary Peter Mathuki to find ways to close the budget funding gap to save the day.

At the 31st meeting, held on June 11, ministers ordered that the use of the funds raised be in accordance with existing legal provisions, policy guidelines and decisions of the Council, according to Kenya’s EAC Cabinet Secretary, Adan Mohamed, who chairs the Council.

Funds for the EAC Secretariat are intended to cover staff recruitment, legal and judicial activities, ICT, travel and administration.

EALA calls for $ 1.6 million in sitting allowance arrears, $ 1.5 million plenary sessions, $ 300,000 outreach, the president’s office $ 200,000 and more for interparliamentary games and surveillance.

Mr Namara said the proposed budget can only cover salaries. This could hamper the implementation of the EAC Monetary Union, tours to collect partner states’ views on a political confederation, and other activities, including the admission of DR Congo.

“If a department asks for $ 800 and receives $ 200, that money will be misused because it cannot use it for its intended purpose,” Namara said.

There is concern in the Secretariat as the Council reduced travel allowances for EAC staff, headquarters allowances for EALA, whose full sessions have now resumed in Arusha, and fees for the day-to-day functioning of EAC bodies. The EAC budget has been declining since 2019. In FY 2019/2020, EALA approved $ 111,450,529, and in 2020/2021, the Board presented a budget of $ 97 million, that’s a reduction of $ 14 million. Now the council has proposed $ 90 million. The drop of more than $ 20 million is blamed on reduced activities due to Covid restrictions and limping regional economies.

The 2019 budget allocated $ 53.2 million to the EAC secretariat, $ 18.9 million to the EALA and $ 4.2 million to the EACJ. But this year’s estimates have reduced the amounts to $ 42.6 million for the secretariat, $ 15.6 million for the EALA and $ 3.7 million for the EACJ.

Secretary General Mathuki inherited empty funds when he took over from Liberat Mfumukeko two months ago.

At the 42nd Extraordinary Council Meeting, held on May 7, it was revealed that although activities had been budgeted, the budget allocation for the Office of the Secretary-General for the fiscal year 2020/2021 had been exhausted by the end. April.

In last year’s budget, the President of the Council and Rwandan Minister in charge of EAC Affairs, Manasseh Nshuti, argued that due to Covid-19, EAC partner states have been affected. economically and therefore reduced their remittances.

The main activities of the EAC are funded by contributions from partner states.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan were each expected to contribute $ 7.8 million in 2020/2021, up from $ 8.2 million in 2019/2020.

“South Sudan owed $ 27 million, but has since returned at least $ 4 million,” Dr Mathuki said. Burundi, which owed $ 6.5 million, handed over $ 4.04 million.

“South Sudan and Burundi have paid money, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that all the money they send goes to the General Reserve. We need the approval of the Advice on how to spend it, ”Namara said.

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