Lawmakers on East African Public Accounts Committees have resolved to engage Somalia and Djibouti and other politically troubled member states on best practices in management of public finances for a smooth and extensive integration.
This was announced yesterday at a meeting of East African Public Accounts Committee (EAPAC) hosted by Rwanda’s Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to develop strategic plans to broaden oversight roles in other East African countries.
The committee which was founded in 2005 started with two East African countries, namely Uganda and Tanzania but has since expanded to include Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South-Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and East African Legislative Assembly.
EAPAC seeks to form African Public Accounts Committee which requires bringing more members on board in the horn and the east and southern parts of Africa before it can merge with bigger blocs like West African PAC and South African Community PAC.
However, there are concerns that some countries in the region whose parliaments are not fully functional and those that are politically troubled might drag the rest of the countries whose integration policies are running smoothly.
Legislators noted with a particular concern countries like Burundi which is signatory to the EAC protocols but because of the political turmoil, integration has been relatively slow even when there is commitment to form a political federation in the future.
According to Alice Alaso, a Ugandan lawmaker and the outgoing chairperson of the EAPAC, establishment of the association was about setting standards and best practices to share with other regional countries in a bid to ensure money approved by parliaments for public service delivery is put to good use.
“It is extremely important that we have Somalia, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea, because they constitute the arm bit of the Eastern Africa Region but the challenge is that right now they have a number of political questions,” she said.
“Unless they resolve the political questions their parliament cannot work normally, and if you don’t have such kind of parliament, you can’t have efficient public accounts committees.”
MP Alaso stated that EALA is set to engage respective governments on plausible modalities of shunning the culture of impunity and misuse of public finances.
Juvenal Nkusi, the chairperson of the joint EAPAC said a detailed letter of information about EAPAC will be sent to those countries before members of the committees start actual outreach programmes.
“Our specificity and missions on those particular countries are very much important, because PACs are not just normal standing committees, they are special in a way and they aim to bring government to full accountability, that is why we want actions, success and achievements,” he said.
According to Theoneste Karenzi another MP in the EAPAC, there was a strong need for harmonisation of EAC integration process to make sure no country is left behind although some other countries have been showing high level of commitment.
Currently active members are Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Southern Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and EALA.