East Africa: Address Cash Crisis, EALA Urges Ministers

THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has once again called East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers to address the dire financial crisis facing the regional bloc.

The lawmakers want all partner states to duly remit their financial obligations in a timely manner and fashion.

Particularly, the assembly which convened here for its first meeting of the third on Thursday recommended the council of ministers to consider invoking Article 143 or 146 to impose sanctions against partner states that default on payment.

The legislators took issue with the Republic of South Sudan's failure to honour its financial obligations towards the community, giving the new EAC member until the end of this month to pay up.

In the same vein, the House commended Uganda for h onouring its contribution for the Financial Year 2019/20 to the tune on 72 per cent as of last week.

The community's legislative organ urged other partner states to emulate the East African nation by complying with Regulation 23(5) of EAC Financial Rules and Regulations.

The assembly also called for the finalization and effecting of the Alternative Financing Mechanism, as well as the reconsideration and removal of the zero budget increase ceilings.

EALA's call to member states to start remitting their dues follows a petition filed by the regional Civil Society Organizations under the aegis of the East African Civil Society Organizations Forum (EACSOF).

EACSOF had in the petition made a number of prayers for consideration by the Assembly on matters it deemed of concern to itself and citizens of the region.

The petition signed by acting Executive Director Ms Martha Makenge, avers two critical matters; on the implementation of the budget of the EAC after being passed by EALA and assented to by the Summit and on the implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocols with specific focus on implementation of Article 24 of the Customs Union Protocol (on the EAC Trade Remedies Committee).

Through the petition, EACSOF also urged the Council of Ministers to recommend to the Summit of EAC Heads of State to invoke article 143 and 146 on Partner States that have met the criteria of activation of that particular article.

"We are further considering filing a legal suit with the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on interpretation of Article 143 of the Treaty and why it has not been invoked in such circumstances that are detrimental to EAC," the petition reads in part.

During the debate, Ugandan lawmaker Matthias Kasamba observed that while the Community appreciated the remittances of funds due by the Partner States, the consistent delay was worrisome.

He said the current budget performance stands at 59 per cent and wondered whether it was prudent to continue planning for support of 100 per cent of all activities.

"We need to find out why the Republic of South Sudan is not paying," he said. On his part however, South Sudanese legislator Mr Kennedy Mukulia noted that sanctioning a country was not an option, citing the Greece case when it got embroiled in the European Union crisis. "The Country should be urged to comply," he said.

On his part, Hon Kim Ghai, said sanctioning the Republic of South Sudan would jeopardize the country's gains, including the quest for peace.

He was of the view that it was important for the member states to give the world's newest nation some time to honour its financial obligations.

"While South Sudan rejected the option to join the League of Arab nations, it is interested in remaining within the EAC fold. "Sanctioning the country will not solve the problem", he said.

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