The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on September 2, 2020 via a virtual sitting approved a Vote on Account of USD $19.6 Million to support the normal operations and cater for expenses of the East African Community (EAC) in the first quarter of the Financial Year 2020-2021.
The approval came late as many hindrances blocked the budgetary procedures and dragged the process past June.
EALA law maker Dr. Oburu Oginga said the debate on Vote on Account took longer to be settled due to some issues including the presentation of the EAC budget in inadequate time to the Assembly by the Council of Ministers.
“I also urge the Council to ensure the Partner States improve on their modalities of the annual remittances so that we can do our work as is envisaged in the treaty obligation”, said Hon Amb Fatuma Ndangiza.
The regional law makers raised concerns over the arrears the secretariat was yet to fulfill which was considered among the impediments to approve the partial budget.
“While in a committee with the Secretary General one of the reason it dragged on for a little longer was because of the arrears of members of EALA and staff but SG assured us they will borrow from the Lake Victoria and IUCEA,” said Musamali Paul a law maker from Uganda.
According to the regional law makers the East African Community Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko committed to consult with the Council of Ministers on how and when the arrears of the legislatures and staff would be covered.
“The issue of borrowing for EALA and institutions was discussed and there was council directives,” said Mr. Mfumukeko.
“I want to address the fears of the arrears and the council has assured us so by 30th September if we are not paid our money we shall put it in the current budget of the financial year,” said Namara Denis the chairman of the General Purpose Committee.
The EAC Secretary General argued that the delay of the budget approval was partly due to the council could not meet mostly because of COVID-19 measures and some member states were in elections.
“I would like to assure you the issues and problems encountered during the budget process will be consulted with my office,” said Mfumukeko.
The regional assembly allocated $9 million to the EAC Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly – USD 5.2 million, East African Court of Justice, USD 574,063 and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission USD 941,717.
While the East African Science and Technology Commission is to receive USD 512,037.
According to the EAC Budget Act 2008, the Secretary General is by 15th October of each financial year, asked to provide the budget for the Community in the meantime submit to the Council of Ministers for approval. Section 4 of the EAC Budget Act requires the Chairperson, Council of Ministers to present the EAC Budget to the Assembly by the 30th day of April, while the Assembly should pass the EAC Budget Estimates no later than June 30th each year.
“We have revenue and expenditure… in the best of my knowledge no revenue in regardless for 2020-21 has been received from any of the partner states,” said Aden Abdikadir EALA member from Kenya.
“It is the failure of the executive that has caused the failure of the budget to pass the budget by June so it is important and critical we work in harmony,” he added.
The approval of the partial budget comes as some EALA members made complaints that the community lacked enough means to cover expenses with Burundi and South Sudan being major defaulters. The two countries were threatened to be sanctioned owing the community over USD 30 million as of earlier August 2020.