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EALA passes EAC Appropriation Bill, 2012 / Funds to be availed to implement Common Market and lay framework for Monetary Union

By East African Legislative Assembly (EALA)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, May 30, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has today passed the EAC Appropriation Bill 2012 making provision for appropriation of USD 138,316,455 out of the EAC Budget to the service of the financial year ending 30th June 2012.

The passage of the Bill follows the successful debate on the floor of the House. Earlier on, EALA had dissolved into Committees of Way and Supply to consider and approve the Financial Statement for the Financial Year 2012/2013 and approve the estimates of expenditure for the Financial Year 2012/2013 respectively. The funds requested for are to realise the broad objectives of the theme 'Implementation of the Common Market and laying foundation for the Monetary Union'.

During the Committees of Way and Supply the Assembly approved a figure of USD 68,247,046 for the EAC Secretariat including the Defence Liaison Office and the Directorate of Customs and Trade. The Lake Victoria Basin Commission shall be entitled to USD 40,039,716 while the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) shall access USD 12,557, 798. The Assembly approved a vote of USD 10,105, 618 to the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA). The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) shall be entitled to USD 4,163,236 while the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) shall receive USD 3,203,041.

Presenting the Report of the General Purpose Committee on the budget, Hon Lydia Wanyoto noted that the EAC had made considerable progress during the financial year 2011/2012. She enumerated some of the achievements as the launch of the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011/2012- 2012/2016), resumption of negotiations with the European Commission for the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and on-going negotiations on the EAC Monetary Union. Other successes included good progress towards completion of the Namanga-Arusha-Athi-River road with the Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania registering nearly 95% and over 90% respectively as of March 2012 and the near completion of the new EAC Headquarters. The budget, Hon Wanyoto noted, is however largely funded by Development Partners with close to 71% of the total amount secured from their contributions.

Hon Wanyoto remarked that the assumptions of the Financial Year 2012/2013 included the continued and consolidated political support, availability of adequate financial resources and timely remittances and conducive macro-economic and business environment in the region. The Committee however takes note of the low absorbance capacity of the approved budget and recommends that bureaucracy and the often delayed approval procedures in the EAC be minimised to allow for speedy, efficient and appropriate implementation of activities.

During debate, Hon Gervase Akhaabi noted the need for the region to take the first responsibility to fund its own activities noting that seeking assistance from Development Partners was time-bound.

'We need to develop institutions that would move the integration process to deeper institution noting that the decision by the Council of Ministers to have the president and deputy judge president in Arusha was timely intervention in the dispensation of Justice', Hon Akhaabi noted.

Hon Dan Ogalo noted that it was necessary for the Council of Ministers to monitor and keep under constant review - the activities of the Secretariat as per article 14 of the Treaty. The legislator noted that it was imperative for the Council of Ministers to be based in Arusha and in such absence, the Chair of the Council of Ministers shall need to give at least 120 official days of his/her time in Arusha. Hon Ogalo noted that it was possible for carve out a subsequent budget to enable the Chair of the Council of Ministers to operate within Arusha for the requested time-period.

Hon Yves Nsabimana noted that the region continued to face challenges in infrastructure, the lack of electricity, health issues, quality of education, disasters and climate change yet the budget did not take full consideration of the matters at hand. The legislator called for the formation of an East African Guarantee Fund, which he said, would be funded by the Private Sector and other stakeholders.

Hon Dr. Aman Kabourou noted that it was important for the budget to consider the betterment of the lives of East Africans. He however noted that since the EAC budget was largely funded by Development Partners, their priorities and that of citizens differed a great deal.

Hon Janet Mmari who opposed support for the Bill decried the inadequate sensitization programme which she noted was vital to enable the citizens to be fully aware of the integration process. She noted that the envisaged amount of USD 175,000 was not adequate for sensitization.

Hon Kate Kamba urged the region to think pro-rural if the EAC is to really help the people. 'If you look at the Europeans, over 50% of their budget goes to the farmers which explains why Ireland, Spain and Portugal have improved their economies within the European Union. But this is the exact opposite of what happens in countries in Africa which are pro-urban', she lamented.

On his part, Hon Christophe Bazivamo urged the region to be independent of donor funding in order to chart its way forward and called on the Council of Ministers to come up with a blueprint (EAC Vision 2030) that rationalises its activities.

Hon Otieno Karan noted that NTBs were hampering business and needed to be speedily addressed. He called for the immediate removal of the yellow fever certificate upon entry to Tanzania. The legislator further remarked that the envisaged Assembly in the new EAC headquarters did not meet the specifications of what was required, saying that adequate consultations were not carried out.

In response to the contributions, Kenya's Assistant Minister for the EAC, Hon Peter Munya noted that the Community would continue to explore ways of funding to check the over-burden on Development Partners' funding. Hon Munya informed the House the Inter-University Council of East Africa Act was now in place and the Council was looking at proposed amendments.