Wasteful expenditure, irregular procurements and short-term contracts that contravene staff rules and regulations of the Community are outstanding issues the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) wants curtailed at the EAC Secretariat.
This was highlighted as lawmakers Friday wrapped up debate and adopted a report of the Committee on Accounts on the audited accounts for the period ended June 30, 2015.
Burundian MP, Jeremie Ngendakumana, Chairperson of the Committee on Accounts, presented the 76-page document.
“The Community’s funds should be spent with due regard to probity and propriety. Audit review revealed a number of instances where the EAC Secretariat spent funds that could have been avoided had management been more prudent in the utilization of its resources,” Ngendakumana said.
“A total of $76,180 was spent on daily subsistence allowances, conference facilities, fuel, and accommodation for various meetings. The meetings were held in Ngurdoto and Marangu without justification.”
The Committee recommended to the Assembly to urge the EAC Council of Ministers to: direct the Secretariat and other organs to put an end to wasteful expenditure; hold the approving authority liable; always emphasize value for money in the EAC affairs; and take necessary action.
Meanwhile, the Committee’s review of procurement reportedly shows that the Community under the Secretariat procured hotel services worth $163,763 with no justification seeing that they did not meet the criteria for usage of direct procurement as per EAC procurement policies and procedures.
“The EAC Management responded that hotels and conference services are procured through a framework contract,” Ngendakumana told the House.
“The Management agrees with the Auditors recommendation to ensure that all services are acquired competitively in accordance with the procurement procedures and guidelines of the Community.”
The lawmaker stressed that, largely, across EAC institutions, projects and programmes have a big issue of budget absorption requiring proper budgetary planning and coherence and consistency in the budgeting process.
The Community had a budget of $125,643,894 and the actual expenditure totaled $81,349,607; implying an overall budget performance of 65 percent, during the reporting period.
Ngendakumana said: “Gross irregularities were noted in recruitment and award of short term contracts, a process that contravenes Staff Rules and Regulations and the Treaty. Similarly, many procurement processes in the EAC organs and institutions contravene procurement procedures.”
EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, assured the House that reforms initiated under his regime will bear fruits. Reforms to check wasteful expenditure, he noted, include improvements in financial management and cuts on travel days.
“With these reforms, the Secretariat is due to save about six million US dollars. A few months from now, we shall be following the trends to see if we achieve our set targets,” Mfumukeko told the Assembly.
The Secretary General was given up to October to show how he intends to implement the Assembly’s current and previous decisions.
The Committee recommended empowering the Office of the Secretary General to sanction members of staff who contravene the Treaty and the Financial Rules and regulations. Also highlighted is the need to undertake a comprehensive review of the procurement manual in order to bring it in line with the 2012 financial rules and regulations.
During debate, Dr. Francois Xavier Kalinda (Rwanda) said irregular recruitment of staff was glaring and that it presented legal challenges for both the concerned staff and the Community itself. MP Bernard Mulengani (Uganda) stressed that diligent internal controls within the finance department were required.