Arusha — THE new budget for the East African Community is expected to have dwindled when it is tabled here next week after the resumption of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) sessions in Arusha.
In what looks like the region's effort to cut down expenses and reduce donor dependence, the five member states have trimmed the budget for this financial year by 10 million US dollars.
The EALA is to resume its sessions from next Monday, May 26 up to June 6 this year. The assembly convenes shortly after the East African Court of Justice moved in to save its estranged Speaker, Dr Margaret Nantongo Zziwa who was almost ousted by EALA members recently but is now expected to preside over the house debates.
EALA thus expected to receive and deliberate on the EAC budget for the 2014/2015 financial year to be tabled on May 29 by the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Ms Phyllis Kandie.
Other matters to be discussed include EAC Integration (Education) Bill, 2014, the EAC Appropriation Bill, 2014 and the EAC Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2014 as well as receiving and considering reports from various committees of the Assembly.
The EAC Integration (Education) Bill, 2014 is anchored on Article 7 of the EAC Treaty, providing for people-centredness and a market driven economy. The Bill deals with civic education in the region and aims to equip East African citizens with the necessary skills and information about the community.
Furthermore, the Bill seeks to establish a unit within the Office of the EAC Secretary General, mandated to coordinate integration education in EAC partner states. The proposed unit is to develop educational materials and set standards and quality control measures.
The budget speech remains a key activity of the community. Last Year, EALA approved a budget amounting to 131,806,032 US dollars. The budget's priorities then were to consolidate the Common Market; completion of negotiations and movement towards the East African Monetary Union Protocol; investment promotion and private sector development; co-operation in cross-border infrastructure; enhancing the extractive and processing industries; implementation of the critical activities of EAC food security and the mainstreaming of policies, programmes and projects related to gender.
In January 2014, EALA approved a supplementary budget giving the EAC go-ahead to expend an additional 2,143,960 US dollars for the 2013/14 financial year to meet its programmes.
The supplementary budget was earmarked for support in activities related to agriculture, trade and customs, the EAC Financial Management Harmonisation Project and the strengthening of the East and Southern Africa-India Ocean (ESA-IO) Maritime Security Project.