The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), yesterday, began its sittings in Kampala, Uganda with emphasis on the regional bloc to continue searching for a sustainable funding mechanism for its operations.
The fourth meeting of the 5th Session of EALA, due to end on January 26, will also discuss various issues pertaining to regional integration.
Over the two-weeks, the assembly will be addressed by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at a special sitting today, as well as debate on the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016.
Other bills to be debated include; the Administration of East African Court of Justice Bill, 2016, and the EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016.
During a news conference yesterday, Dan Kidega, the EALA Speaker, described the financial crisis as a “matter that is so critical that the assembly and a number of institutions and organs literally postponed or reduced some of their activities last year.”
The contribution by partner states, Kidega added, stands at 36.79 percent which he said paints a less than positive picture of the direction necessary to drive the community.
“I appeal to the partner states to make their full remittances immediately to enable the Community to undertake its projects,” the EALA Speaker said.
The matter has previously also dominated plenary debates at the regional parliament, with the bloc’s policy organ, the EAC Council of Ministers, taken to task for not taking action against wasteful expenditure.
The EAC resolution on the establishment of an alternative sustainable financing mechanism, a copy of which The New Times obtained yesterday, shows that the activities of the bloc have been disrupted since August last year.
By August last year, the total outstanding amount due to the community by partner states was $45, 316, 812 million.
“Other activities include the delayed payment of salaries and payment to EAC suppliers. These have also disrupted all the other activities, including the ongoing plenary,” the resolution reads in part.
Misuse of funds
Regional analysts blame the escalating expenditure on travels and procurement because of a string of seminars and meetings.
Female genital mutilation bill
On the EAC prohibition of female genital mutilation bill, 2016, Rwanda’s EALA member Martin Ngoga said that the assembly is coming in to reinforce efforts at national level aimed at completely putting female genital mutilation to an end.
“We know for a fact that these practices are still there. We want to come up with legislation that will ensure this practice is stopped,” he said.
On funding, Ngoga said, “Council of Ministers need to realise the urgency of the matter and implement the Summit decision to come up with sustainable alternative funding mechanism. There are several options on the table. What is of importance is not to let the process stale.”
During the Kampala sitting, EALA will also receive and consider reports from its various committees including the committee on communication, trade and investments, the committee on accounts, committee on regional affairs and conflict resolution, and the committee on legal rules and privileges.
The assembly will also consider several motions and petitions brought before it.