Arusha — The Assembly adjourned sine die (indefinitely) yesterday after two weeks of Sitting.
Key highlights of the Assembly proceedings included the passing of the EAC Budget Speech for the Financial Year 2014/2015 and the adoption of key Reports. In addition, a landmark ruling by the Rt. Hon Margaret Nantongo Zziwa against the motion for the removal of the Speaker also took centre stage as the House wound up its business.
The 2014/2015 Budget amounting to USD 124,069,625 passed after debate on the floor of the House yesterday. The amount is allocated to the Organs and Institutions of the EAC as follows; East African Community Secretariat ($76,074,052), East African Legislative Assembly ($15,489,836) and the East African Court of Justice ($4,582,190).
The Inter-University Council for East Africa shall receive ($ 9,411,320), Lake Victoria Basin Commission ($ 13,372,466) while $ 2,813,771 is earmarked for the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation. For the first time, three new EAC Institutions are also set to benefit. East African Science and Technology Commission shall receive ($ 679,821), East African Kiswahili Commission ($ 722,102) and the East African Health Research Commission ($ 924,067).
The acting Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Shem Bageine also moved a motion for the Supplementary Appropriation Bill (No 2), 2014 of USD 147,370. The said amount is required for the financial year ending 30th June 2014 for the expenditure of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission incurred on the USAID/EA Support to the co-ordination of the integrated population, health and Environment programme.
The Budget Speech was presented on Wednesday this week by the Deputy Minister of EAC in the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon Dr. Abdalla Sadallah Abdallah.Contributing to the budget debate, the EAC Secretary General, Amb Dr. Richard Sezibera maintained that the Secretariat would strive to undertake the activities in line with the objectives of the Community.
He remarked that the EAC had various ambitions which would be fulfilled over time resources permitting. The Secretary General stated that EAC had realised a budget execution of 96% against the finances remitted on time by partners.
He maintained that his regime would account for travel and ensure value addition and visible returns to the Community. The Secretary General also allayed imminent fears and concerns that Organs and institutions of the Community were operating without existing Rules.
'I wish to confirm to this House that the Summit, Council of Ministers and the Co-ordinating Committee all have rules of procedures. The same applies to all other Organs and Institutions of the Community including EALA', Hon Dr. Sezibera noted.
Hon Dr Sezibera remarked that the Secretariat was close to full automation of its systems and said that digitisation and installation of new budget software would ensure efficiency of services. He noted that for the first time, the EAC would support the Women in Business Platform Conference. 'We are working together with the East African Development Bank (EADB) to ensure the resources can be accessed for the important sector', Amb Sezibera said.
Hon Sezibera hailed the executives, management and staff of the Community for their dedication to duty and remarked that the Council was set to review terms and conditions of service which had remained the same for the last eight years.
The Secretary General urged the House to respect the Office of the Counsel and to heed advice noting that over the period of the Sitting, impugned motives had been attributed to the current holder of the Office, Hon Wilbert Kaahwa. He noted that the failure to do so resulted in consequences.
'There are consequences which have made the respected House to debate motions which are not on the Order Paper including a ruling (by the Speaker) and ignoring those scheduled for discussion owing to failure to listen to the advice of the Counsel', he remarked.
We must never allow a situation where the Chamber descends into a farce or "into a theatre of the absurd", he added.On Thursday, Rt. Hon Margaret Nantongo Zziwa ruled against her censure Motion terming it to have fallen short of the requirements and thus collapsed.
Rt. Hon Zziwa pegged her ruling on Rule 82(2) of Rules of Procedure that grants the Speaker of the Assembly, the final powers on the interpretation and the application of the same.She remarked that three Members from the United Republic of Tanzania, namely, Hon ShyRose Bhanji, Hon Adam Kimbisa and Hon Maryam Ussi had withdrawn their signatures, originally appended to support the Motion and said it was thus improper to hold on to the signatures against their intention to withdraw from the pursuit.
Rt. Hon Zziwa further stated that under Rule 9, the removal of the Speaker needed to be followed by the strict observance of the rights protected under Article 6(d) of the Treaty governing the establishment of the EAC.
Other key reports adopted during the Sitting included: The Report of the Committee on General Purpose on the EAC Annual Report for 2011/2012 and that of the Committee on Accounts on the on-spot assessment of the Internal Audit Systems of the EAC institutions sailed through.
In its Report of the On-spot Assessment of the Internal Audit Systems of the EAC institutions, the Committee on Accounts calls for strengthening of the internal audit systems, adequate staffing and adherence to the international auditing standards.
The Report of the Committee on General Purpose observes that the Annual Report of the EAC should be timely and its content made satisfactory to the Assembly given its oversight role. In this regard, it wants future Annual Reports specifically customized and removed away from the template of a general report.
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