By Vision Reporter
The East African Community (EAC) has presented a supplementary budget seeking a go-ahead to expend an additional $ 2,143,960 for 2013/14 financial year to meet its programmes.
The Assembly also debated and adopted a report of the legal, rules and privileges committee on the assessment of adherence to good governance in the EAC and the Status of the EAC political federation.
Presenting the supplementary budget request to the House on behalf of the Chair of Council of Ministers, Ugandan Minister of State for EAC Affairs, Shem Bageine, remarked that the supplementary budget would prioritise on three main areas.
Out of the specified amount, $ 1,142,763 sourced from USAID, shall be incurred on activities related to Agriculture, Trade and Customs. USD 494, 700 shall be allocated towards the EAC-World Bank Public Financial Management Harmonisation Project while a corresponding $ 506, 497 is expected to be expended to strengthen the East and Southern Africa-India Ocean (ESA-IO) Maritime Security Project.
Under the USAID Project, the Minister remarked that a total of $ 133,700 would be utilized for implementing the EAC Food Security and Nutrition Policy and developing Regional Animal Resources database at the Secretariat.
A second amount of $ 341,150 shall be allocated to a raft of trade activities including facilitating the study of the EAC Common Trade Policy and Strategy, development of the AGOA Framework in all the Partner States and in the preparation of strategies promoting exports to the European and emerging markets.
The development of a mechanism for the operationalisation of a Single Customs Territory and the institutionalization of the Revenue Authorities Digital Data Exchange are some of the priorities to be funded under the Customs component of the grant. The stipulated amount is $406,325.
The Minister maintained that there was need to ensure harmonization of the procurement, accounting and oversight functions of the EAC as the process to embrace the Monetary Union Protocol commences.
The Secretariat is thus expected to support the Partner States in the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, compliance with the best practices of the Institute of Internal Auditors and in the approximation of legal and institutional requirements, procurement processes and the capacity development requirements.
The Chair of the Council informed the House that a specified amount of $506,497 would be used to strengthen the capacity of the East and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (ESA-1O) Maritime Security project. This is expected to assist the region in the implementation of the Regional Strategy and Action Plan against Piracy and for Maritime Security.
In May 2013, the House approved the Budget of EAC amounting to $ 130, 429,394. The theme of the budget is “Consolidating the EAC Common Market and moving towards the Monetary Union.”
On its part, the Assessment Report on Good Governance and the status of the Political Federation notes that the EAC has drafted a Good Governance Protocol that incorporates a number of pillars including human rights, transparency, accountability and democracy among others. Discussions are on-going on the Protocol. The Committee gives it a nod but recommends that the EAC should enhance institutional mechanisms to monitor and evaluate adherence to the good governance principles in the Community.
On Political Federation, the Report states that the Treaty is not explicit on Political Federation timelines. This prompted the Wako Committee to make recommendations on the Political Federation.
“The Wako Report recommended for an overlapping achievement of integration stages and the fast tracking of Political Federation”, a section of the Report reads.
The Report tabled by the Chair of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges, Dora Byamukama, terms the purpose of Political Federation as the desire to unite the Partner States into a Federal State with a unified and coordinated political authority. The proposed Federation will be governed by a Federal Constitution that will be negotiated and subjected to a referendum by the Peoples of the Partner States, the Report denotes.
The model of the Political Federation, the Report states, shall have a bicameral legislature, a Presidential system of government with an all-inclusive cabinet and an independent federal Judiciary. A number of federal institutions such as a Central Bank, Electoral Commission and Service Commission are also proposed.
The Committee however observes in the Report that studies in Political Federation show that the rational and vision for political integration need to be articulated afresh. The need to amend the constitutions of the EAC Partner States to allow for Political Federation is also fundamental.
The Report terms as fundamental, the need to establish a structure to continuously sensitise on the integration process, in order to eventually achieve a federation that is considered legitimate and people centred. It thus urges the EAC to involve EALA at the Partner State level in the sensitization programmes.
The Report sums up by suggesting the commencement of merging of few areas of federal matters and to give timeframe for federating the remaining ones. In order to arbitrate on such matters in future, it also wants the East African Court of Justice to be given extended jurisdiction to handle the matters of federal nature.