Assembly approves Vote-on-Account od USD 19.6 million for quarter 1 of new financial year
East African Legislative Assembly; September 3rd, 2020: Arusha, Tanzania: The East African Legislative Assembly late yesterday at a virtual sitting, approved a Vote on Account of USD 19,697,574.88 Million to support the normal operations and to cater for expenses of the EAC in the first quarter of the Financial Year 2020/2021. Under the approved Vote on Account, the EAC Secretariat is to receive USD 9,095,178.88, East African Legislative Assembly – USD 5,295,062, East African Court of Justice, USD 574,063, and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, USD 941,717. The East African Science and Technology Commission is to receive USD 512,037, East African Kiswahili Commission – USD 305,482, East African Health Research Commission, USD 362,333, while East African Competition Authority is allocated USD 352,576. On its part, USD 1,89,257 is earmarked for the Inter University Council of East Africa and USD 305,482 pegged for the activities of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization.
The Vote-on Account was preceded by a Resolution of the Assembly to constitute itself into a Committee of Supply to consider and approve it, in a first such activity for the EAC. Prior to the allocation exercise, the Assembly had received and debated on the Report of the Committee on General Purpose by the Chairman, Hon Denis Namara. The report urges the Secretary General and the Council of Ministers to comply with provisions of the Treaty and the EAC Budget Act 2008, in regards to the preparation and presentation of the Budget to the House.
The Committee observed that under the EAC Budget Act 2008, the Secretary General is by 15th October of each financial year, required to prepare the budget for the Community and to submit the same to the Council of Ministers for consideration. Section 4 of the EAC Budget Act requires the Chairperson, Council of Ministers to present the EAC Budget to the Assembly by the 30th day of April, while the Assembly should pass the EAC Budget Estimates no later than June 30th each year.
Hon Namara informed the House that the Assembly would continue to stand firm to ensure all approved activities as envisaged in the Annual calendar are undertaken in light of article 14(3) (c) of the EAC Treaty.
Three weeks ago (August 13th, 2020), the House proposed the Vote on Account goes for scrutiny by the Committee on General Purpose. EALA Speaker, Rt Hon Ngoga Karoli Martin, (then) ruled the Vote on Account be handled urgently without any further delay, but with compliance to requirements/mechanisms set out under the EAC Budget Act, 2009. Under the said law on Vote on Account, the amount to be disbursed, must not exceed one-third of the budget of the Community.
The State Minister of EAC, Rwanda and Chair to the Council of Ministers, Hon Nshuti Manasseh laid on the table the EAC Budget Estimates for the FY 2020/2021, the EAC Supplementary budget for the FY 2019/2020 and the EAC Vote on account for the first quarter of the FY 2020/2021.
At the same time, the Assembly received budget estimates for the Financial Year 2020/2021 amounting to USD 97, 669, 708 Million prompting the Speaker to forward the estimates to the Committee on General Purpose for perusal.
At debate yesterday, Hon Rose Akol said the presentation of budget needed to be in line with normal budgeting norms and procedures. Hon Dr Oburu Oginga said the debate on Vote on Account had taken unnecessarily long due to a number of issues, citing lack of presentation of the budget to the Assembly on time by the EAC Council of Ministers. “We need a proper explanation on the matter, which should not be repeated in future”, he said. Hon Amb Fatuma Ndangiza said while the EALA and other Organs had in the past returned clean (unqualified) reports, there was need to embrace timeliness in way, manner and fashion of doing business to avoid consequences of delayed budgets. “I also urge the Council to ensure Partner States improve on their modalities of the annual remittances, so that we are able to do our work as is envisaged in the treaty obligation”, Hon Amb Ndangiza said.
Hon Dr Woda J. Odok said there was need for stronger cooperation between all Organs and institutions, so that the budget making process is efficient. Others who supported the report of the Committee on General Purpose on the approval of the Vote on Account were Hon Fatuma Ibrahim, Hon Paul Musamali, Hon Kennedy Mukulia, Hon Abdikadir Omar Aden, Hon Wanjiku Muhia, Hon Kennedy Kalonzo, Hon Eng Mohammed Mnyaa and Hon Fancy Nkuhi.
The EAC Secretary General, Hon Amb Liberat Mfumukeko while lauding the General-Purpose Committee, said the EAC Budget Act 2008 as well as the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations dictated how budget processing is done. “We were compliant in terms of submitting the Budget proposals as provided for by the Act. However, in March this year, some borders closed, owing to the pandemic, we followed the law by writing to the Assembly in time to request for extension”, he said. “We could not hold the Council meeting in time, given the situation of the pandemic and the electioneering process in the Partner States”, he added. On arrears owed, Hon Amb Mfumukeko reiterated commitment to adhere to the Council decision on the matter. “I am confident, we shall find a solution to the matter,” he said.
He further informed the House of the organization’s commitment to the cause of integration. “I assure you there is good capacity in the Secretariat. We have to be proud of the fact that we are considered the best performing REC, the challenges notwithstanding”, the Hon Secretary General concluded.
Hon Prof Nshuti Manasseh, Chair of Council of EAC Ministers, reiterated despite the delay of budget approval occasioned by a number of factors beyond control, better coordination of the activities would be done in future. He said the arrears owed were a liability and needs to be met. “We hope the two Partner States that are yet to submit the letter of no objection will do so”, Hon Nshuti stated. The Chair of Council of Ministers rallied for cooperation between the Assembly, Council and Secretariat, to stem jeopardy of the bigger picture of integration.
The passage of the Vote on Account sees the resumption of operations of the Community as it awaits the main Budget.
Last Financial Year, the Assembly approved a budget amounting to USD 111,450,529 following Budget proposals presented to the House in June 2019 by the (then) Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, United Republic of Tanzania, Hon Dr Damas Ndumbaro
NOTES TO THE EDITORS
Section 6 of the EAC Budget Act, 2008, provides that ;
(a) The Assembly may approve a vote - on - account in every financial year to enable normal operations of the Community in the first quarter of the new financial year and before the approval of the budget;
(b) The vote - on - account shall not exceed one-third of the total budget of the Community or of any of its Institutions.
- ENDS -
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About the East African Legislative Assembly
The East African Legislative Assembly is the Legislative Organ of the East African Community. Its Membership consists of a total of 62, of whom 54 are elected Members (9 from each Partner State) and eight ex-officio members (the Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs from the Partner States, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community).The East African Legislative Assembly has legislative functions as well as oversight of all East African Community matters. The enactment of legislation of the Community is put in effect by means of Bills passed by the Assembly and assented to by the Heads of State, and every Bill that has been duly passed and assented to become an Act of the Community and takes precedent over similar legislations in the Partner States. EALA has to date passed over 80 pieces of legislation.