1 February 2010

East Africa: EA Lawmakers Demand Adequate Funding

Kigali — Parliamentarians from different partner states of the East African Community (EAC) have asked their governments to allocate enough funds to ensure the smooth running of the bloc.

During the closing of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar in Bujumbura, Burundi yesterday, the lawmakers said their home Parliaments should appropriate more funds to reduce reliance on foreign funding.

"Partner states are urged to allocate adequate resources for EAC organs and institutions in particular the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to discharge its duties," they said in a communiqué issued shortly after the meeting.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General (Planning and Infrastructure), Alloys Mutabingwa, said that implementation of the Common Market Protocol will require the community to run on a well facilitated budget.

He stressed that 48 percent of the EAC total budget comes from donor partners, adding that this largely goes into implementing programs and projects like infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation.

"This is a dangerous undertaking because we are subjected to having to bargain with donors to have this community integrate," Mutabingwa said

Meanwhile, in separate interviews conducted by The New Times, the legislators said that the majority of East Africans lack enough information about the Common market Protocol, and called upon the EAC to come up with a robust strategy on creating awareness about the integration process.

Charles Kilonzo, a Kenyan Member of Parliament suggested that each partner state should conduct civic education seminars to sensitize people about the protocol.

"In my country, it's only the businessmen and the elite who know about the common market. Even national parliaments have been left out in this entire process," he said

Emma Boona, a Ugandan Member of Parliament said, "the majority of Ugandans do not understand the common market protocol except leaders and the business community which is excited about free trade and clearing at border posts which will be improved."

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