The East African Legislative Assembly has reconsidered and approved the EAC Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2020/21, amounting to USD97,669,708, at a Special Sitting held virtually. With it, the Assembly further enacted the recommitted EAC Appropriation Bill, 2020.
Under the 2020/21 vote, the EAC Secretariat is to receive USD 48,564,401, while the East African Legislative Assembly gets USD16,755,725.
The East African Court of Justice is expected to benefit from the kitty, earning USD3,970,406, 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 subsequent passage of the EAC Budget now puts to an end the prolonged process which commenced in September 2020.
In September 2020, EALA enacted the EAC Appropriation Bill, 2020, appropriating a total sum of USD 104,063,020, for the Organs and Institutions of the EAC.
The EAC Partner States however raised reservations on the variation of the budget estimates, necessitating the return (recommittal) of the said piece of legislation to the House.
The House adjourned in December 2020, before reconsideration of the EAC Appropriation Bill 2020.
The 2020/21 EAC Budget is anchored on the Budget Speech themed “Stimulating the economy to safeguard livelihoods, jobs, businesses and industrial recovery” initially presented to EALA by the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and State Minister for EAC, Republic of Rwanda, Hon Prof Nshuti Manasseh.
According to the Chair of Council of Ministers, the Budget estimates (of USD 97,669, 708) were presented at a time the EAC region as well as the globe, continues reeling from the effects (and after-effects) of the COVID19 pandemic, leading to lockdowns and a slowdown in economic activities.
Debate (which was interrupted on Dec 10, 2020) resumed today on the report of the Committee on General Purpose on the reconsideration of the Bill, presented to the House on November 23rd, 2020, by Hon Kennedy Mukulia, on behalf of the substantive Committee Chair, Hon Dennis Namara.
The report recommends among other things, the need for the reallocation of funds to reinstate the activities of the Secretariat, additional funding for EALA plenary sessions and extra days for Court Sessions among other things.
The report states that during the process of reconsideration of the Bill, the Committee on General Purpose among others, interacted with the Chair, Council of Ministers, reviewed the Budget Estimates and the attendant report of the Assembly and made reference to the relevant provisions of the EAC Treaty and the EAC Budget Act 2008.
Hon Kennedy Kalonzo said it was necessary for the report to be passed and Budget appropriated to the Community to move forward.
He implored the Council of Ministers to do what is humanely possible, in the coming Financial Year to ensure the upcoming budget 2021/2022, is presented to the House in good time.
Hon Kennedy Mukulia said it was the sole responsibility of the Assembly to pass the Community’s budget as per various tenets of the Treaty (article 132(2) and the EAC Budget Act 2008.
“It is on this basis that the Committee on General Purpose scrutinized the budget, taking in to consideration the positive attributes and feasible aspects of the Budget,” the legislator maintained.
Hon Susan Nakawuki-Nsambu said it was inappropriate for the Council of Ministers to be seen to be assuming the role of the Assembly, whereas the EAC Treaty is clear on the mandate and functions of the Organs and Institutions.
“Article 14 (3) c reiterates need for Council to give directions to all institutions of the Community with the exception of the Summit of Heads of State, EALA and EACJ”, she said. “It is necessary to stick together in unity,” she said. “The Rules of Procedure of the Assembly provide for up to 80 days of Sitting and the Council cannot be seen to usurp this aspect,” the legislator added.
Hon Maryam Ussi said consensus making was the hallmark of the integration process, adding that the Council of Ministers had given direction on the ceiling of the budget. Hon George Odongo also supported the report.
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 in September 2020.
He reiterated the position of Rwanda as a Partner State, was in agreement that the Assembly could resolve the contentious issue of the number of days of actual Sitting, within the stipulated figures.
EAC Cabinet Secretary for Kenya, Hon Adan Mohammed, took the same position reiterating the contentious issue as understood, had remained the specific line items within EALA, given that the overall ceiling was already agreed upon.
He said it was important for the Council of Ministers not to be seen to be micro-managing for so long, as the established budget ceiling was not surpassed.
“The expenditures that Partner States commit to is what we stand by, and if the contentious issues are the days of sitting, then let us allow EALA to proceed in that manner,” he said.
On his part, Deputy Minister for EAC in the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon William Ole Nasha, said Tanzania’s position had and will remain aligned to the position of the Council of Ministers’.