THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has refused to approve a vote on account of 67.1bn/- (29.4m US dollars) for quarter one of a new financial year, saying that the Council of Ministers must table the annual budget estimates first.
Members unanimously agreed to stay a request by the EAC Council of Ministers to approve the vote for supporting the normal operations of the EAC.
Accordingly, EALA Speaker, Mr Martin Ngoga, upon request by the House, invoked Section 12 of the EAC Budget 2008, to extend the period for consideration of the EAC Budget for Financial Year (FY) 2020/2021.
At the same time, the Assembly urged the EAC Secretary General, Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, and the Council of Ministers to always comply with the provisions of the Treaty and the EAC Budget in regard to the preparation and presentation of the budget to the Assembly.
Following a letter to the Assembly by Ambassador Mfumukeko, Chair of the Council of Ministers, Mr Nshuti Manasseh, tabled a request for vote on account for FY 2020/2021. The request was in line with Article 6 of the EAC Budget Act, 2008, as a stop-gap measure to allow for continuity of the activities of the Community.
The Chair of Council noted that it had not been possible to bring the budget estimates in good time (by 30th April) of the financial year due to an outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic and other reasons.
He assured the Assembly that the Council of Ministers would duly meet, no later than next week, to consider the budget proposals.
The Committee on General Purpose had met to consider the request ahead of the afternoon sitting. Presenting the report of the committee to an attentive House, Committee Chairman, Mr Abdikadir Aden, said whereas the request was noted, it would be irregular to invoke the provision of section 6 of the Budget Act.
He said that Chairperson of the Council of Ministers should first present the EAC Budget Estimates for the FY 2020/2021 as required by Article 132(2) of the Treaty and Section 4 of the Budget Act.
“The Assembly cannot be an accomplice in the commission of such an illegality. It would be speculative for the Assembly to approve a Vote-on-Account amounting to 29,402,292 US dollars at a time when the Council of Ministers has neither met nor even set a date for a meeting to consider and approve the budget estimates”, the Chair of the Committee said.
The amount was to be allocated to the EAC organs and institutions, but is yet to be tabled to the Assembly. They relate to EAC Secretariat (13,033,857 US dollars), East African Court of Justice (1,323,469US dollars), EALA (5,585,242 US dollars).
On its part, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission was to receive 2,793,352US dollars while the East African Science and Technology Commission was allocated 512,250 US dollars.
At least 466,439 US dollars was earmarked for the East African Kiswahili Commission. The East African Health Research Commission was to be allocated 626,533 US dollars while East African Competition Authority would receive 376,080 US dollars.
On their part, the Inter-University Council of East Africa was to receive 3,659,092 US dollars while the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization had an earmarked figure of 1,025,978US dollar.
Mr Aden informed the House that EALA Commission had engaged the Council of Ministers and the Secretary General on the matter but the Council of Ministers has not indicated when the Budget Estimates will be presented to the Assembly, something that has serious implications on the effective functioning of the organs and institutions of the Community.
Members who supported the stand were Dr Rose Akol, Mr Gideon Gatpan Ms Fancy Nkuhi, Dr Oburu Oginga, Ms Maryam Ussi, Ms Fatuma Ibrahim, Florence Jematia, Dr Woda Odok Jeremiah and Ms Mary Mugyenyi.
In response, Chair of Council of Ministers, Mr Nshuti, assured the House that the Council would meet next week to table the budget estimates.