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Countries raise sh151b for African Union

By Pascal Kwesiga

Added 6th August 2018 05:23 PM

The money has been raised from a 0.2% levy on selected imports from outside Africa.

Countries raise sh151b for African Union

The money has been raised from a 0.2% levy on selected imports from outside Africa.

Twenty One African Union member states have raised $41m (151b) to finance the operations of the continental organisation.

The money has been raised from a 0.2% levy on selected imports from outside Africa.

The proposal to impose a 0.2% levy on selected imports from outside the continent was adopted by member states at the 27th general assembly in Kigali in 2016. The member states were expected to start enforcing the proposal by January 2017. 

While the twenty one countries have established the levy in their respective legal frameworks and started collecting the fee on imports entering crossing into their borders, the 34 member states have not started enforcing the proposal.

However, about 23 member states are said to be at various stages in an effort to start implementing the proposal aimed at enabling the AU raise substantial finances to fund its activities, including peace operations on the African soil.

A Makerere University don, associate prof. Philip Kasaija Apuuli, who has been involved in the AU-coordinated conflict management and peace efforts on the continent, said the union's commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, reported recently that $41m had been collected by the 21 member countries by April.

"This is a very huge milestone because, for the first time since 1963 when the AU was formed, member states have collected money for the peace fund. And it is also encouraging that other countries are at various levels in the process of implementing the proposal," Kasaiaj said. He was speaking at a public dialogue on the proposed AU financing reforms at Protea Hotel in Kampala recently. 

The dialogue was organized by the Uganda council on foreign relations, an independent institution, set up to promote foreign relations, policy dialogue and research.

Member contributions
The AU has set itself ambitious goals such as vision 2020 (on silencing guns on the continent), vision 2023 (on funding for vision 2063), 2030 (on implementation of sustainable development goals) and agenda 2063 for socio-economic transformation of the continent.

But a big part of the AU's budget is funded by donors. While member countries are expected to make contributions according to the gross domestic product values, several of them do not meet their individual obligations.

For example, the AU budget for 2018 is about $770m, but member states are expected to contribute about $318m (41%). The 59% funding for the budget is expected to be provided by donors. Statistics indicate that 75% of the contributions expected from members is made by ten countries. 

"Whenever we talk about funds, we have to look at the donors to fund our projects. For example, when we formed the African union in Somalia in 2007, each soldier was supposed to receive $500. It was increased to $700 and later to $1028. But the European Union, which funds our mission, in 2016, slashed the figure to $862," Kasaija said.

The former foreign affairs permanent secretary, ambassador James Mugume, who is a member on the council's board, said since Uganda has not performed satisfactorily in contributions to the AU, it should now focus on implementing the 0.2% import levy.

"There are usually competing priorities in the national budget and finding money to send to AU is always hard. But such a levy would be collected by the tax authorities and forwarded it to the AU. It would be a special levy for AU," he added.

He said the finance ministry can push for an amendment to the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 to get the levy incorporated in the legal framework through Parliament.

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