The 2017/18 East African Community (EAC) budget will be relatively smaller compared to that for the current financial year. The decision was reached by regional ministers based on the current economic situation in member states. They also agreed not to increase contributions to the 2017/18 Budget from partner states.
The development presents a big challenge to the EAC Secretariat because it needs resources to implement many of the programmes aimed at fast-tracking the integration process. There is no doubt that poor funding affects the operations of the EAC, but the challenge should also be seen as an opportunity for the Secretariat to adjust accordingly and ensure that even with the limited funding, work is still done.
Poor funding should not be an excuse for the EAC not to deliver as the region moves towards forming one economic bloc to boost trade. 52 per cent ($57.3 million) of the bloc’s next budget is expected to come from internal resources, mainly partner states’ contributions, which were set at 54 per cent previously. Development partners provide the rest.
The EAC Secretariat should come up with unique strategies to be able to deliver using the available limited funds.
The Secretariat should also reach out to the private sector and forge partnerships aimed at supporting the work of the EAC.
However, partner states should endeavour to pay their contributions on time. To fund activities of key organs of the bloc including the EAC Secretariat, East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Court of Justice for the next financial year, each Partner State should try as much as possible to pay their contributions on time. Delayed payment affects proper implementation.
For example, the Secretariat is currently finding it hard to facilitate activities as some funds for the previous financial year are yet to be paid.
Partner States should hold each other accountable to ensure that they pay their contributions in time.