The East African Community (EAC) budget estimates for the financial year 2008/09 may increase by 7 per cent to deepen and widen regional integration.
If approved, the estimates will increase from $23m to Frw30m.
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is debating the financial estimates for the next financial year in Nairobi Kenya at the old Parliament chambers.
A breakdown of the estimates, prepared by the EAC secretariat show that the EAC secretariat was allocated $16 million , the East African Court of Justice handed $7 million while some $0.6 million will go to defense liaison unit.
The chairman of the Council of Ministers of the East African Community and 1st Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for East African Affairs , Republic of Uganda, Eriya Kategaya presented the budget proposals to the assembly on May 15.
The budget estimates represent a 9 per cent increase in the partner states contributions.
However, taking into consideration the contribution from the development partners, the budget reflects an overall increase of 7.9 per cent.
Kategaya said the increase in the budget is to cope with the fast growing and expanding community.
The statement reads: "Within the framework of the EAC Development Strategy—2006 to 2010, new priorities will continue to emerge, for which additional financial resources will be required to enable implementation of the agreed priority programmes."
These programmes include: the consolidation of the Customs Union, establishment of the Common Market, laying the foundation for the Monetary Union and delivery of the objectives with regards to infrastructure development, agricultural and food security.
Kategaya cites the development of industries and promotion of ICT, tourism, trade, investments, as key and will exert pressure on the economic bloc’s budget.
The increased budget estimates have been presented when significant developments are taking place in the EAC.
Some of them include, the ongoing process towards the establishment of the Common Market and the enlargement of the community, with the admission of Rwanda and Burundi last July 2007. Upon these developments, EAC embraces a strong and large market of a combined population of 120 million people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $ 41 billion (Frw22 trillion).
"These bear great strategic and geopolitical significance as well as prospects for socio economic transformation of our region," Kategaya said.
EAC over spends
However, unforeseen developments intervened in the course of financial year 2007-08 necessitating expenditure over and above the approved budget.
This situation arose as a result of various challenges in the area of prevention and control of both human and animal Trans-boundary diseases, which continue to take a heavy toll on lives as well as impact negatively on the regional economy. In recognition of the importance of these trans-boundary diseases the EAC Secretariat convened an extraordinary meeting of regional ministers responsible for livestock, wildlife, tourism and health, the statement says.
The plan and budget requested for an "Integrated Regional emergency preparedness and response and the ministerial council approved $0.6m (Frw324 million) being counterpart funding for the project over five years.
Last financial year, the secretariat was directed to draw the required $129, 654 (Frw70 million) from the float fund and the remaining period of the project, funding is to be included in the annual budget of the Community.