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Cash woes force EAC to shelve Eala meet




East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) sitting in Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

In an unprecedented decision, the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has cancelled its scheduled sitting in Zanzibar due to a deepening financial crisis.

The three-week session, which was to have begun Monday to debate key bills, will now not take place due to financial constraints.

The cancellation of the sitting to wrap up this year’s activities mirrors the financial situation of the broader East African Community (EAC), Eala being one of its key organs.

Eala public relations officer Bobi Odiko told The Citizen that the session will not take place due to lack of funds.

“The EAC generally is facing a funds challenge. We are dependent on contributions from the partner states, but they have not been sending the money in time,” he said.

An Eala source intimated that each session lasting for two to three weeks would need about $300,000 to $400,000 to be paid as per diems and other allowances to the legislators, the assembly staff and other invited officials.

The cancellation of the House session comes at the time the regional leaders are scheduled to meet here on Friday for their ordinary summit.

Until Monday, preparations for the summit appeared to be underway with the ministerial session already preceded by meetings of senior officials from the partner states.

Although the summit organisation and Eala sessions are under different budget votes, failure to organise the Eala sitting in Zanzibar will send clear signals on the ballooning financial crisis within the EAC.

Regional analysts often attribute the financial constraints perennially haunting the EAC to failure by the six partner states to settle their annual budgetary obligations.

For this year, each of the six member countries – Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan – is supposed to remit a minimum of $8.3 million to the EAC.

Eala clerk Kennedy Madete Monday confirmed that the Zanzibar sitting of the regional Assembly has been postponed due to “liquidity challenges”.

The cash woes Eala was facing, he pointed out, was mainly due to delay in remittance of funds by the member countries.

Information reaching The Citizen said until Monday Kenya had contributed $6.6 million, or 80 per cent of its required contribution, followed by Uganda $2.9 million (36 per cent) and Tanzania $2.1 million (26 per cent).

Rwanda has raised $2 million (25 per cent) for the EAC budget and Burundi $551,831, while new entrant South Sudan has not contributed anything so far.

EAC plans to spend $99,770,716 during the 2018/19 financial year, which is approximately $10 million less than the 2017/18 budget.

Out of the total budget for the current year, development partners were to inject $42.9 million.

The partner states’ contributions for the 2018/19 budget are to be channelled largely through the ministries of EAC Affairs ($50,227,920).