East Africa: Suluhu, Kenyatta for Timely Region Remittances

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan and her Kenyan counterpart, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta have called for East African Community (EAC) partner states to fast-track remittances to the Community.

In their talks at Nairobi State House yesterday, the duo said there were challenges in the Community and one way of solving them was for each of the six members to pay the required amount on time.

They discussed buttressing one of the fastest growing regional economic communities by getting rid of the challenges.

Briefing the media after their talk, President Samia said the non-payment of the funds was a bit disturbing.

The two leaders spoke of the crisis after it had been hinted in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that there was dire financial crisis and that there was need for all partner states to duly remit their financial obligations in a timely manner and fashion.

The Assembly had recommended that the Council of Ministers should consider invoking Article 143 or 146 to impose sanctions against partner states that default on payment.

As the matter came under scrutiny, the House commended the Republic of Uganda for honouring its contribution for the Financial Year 2019/20 to the tune of 72 percent.

EALA urged other partner states to emulate the Republic of Uganda by complying with regulation 23(5) of EAC Financial Rules and Regulations. Consequently, EALA also wanted the Alternative Financing Mechanism finalized and effected and a reconsideration and removal of the zero budget increase ceilings.

Last year, the Assembly passed a resolution moved by Mr Abdikadir Aden, urging the Council of Ministers to direct partner states to immediately and consistently remit their financial contributions to the Community.

In a resolution moved without notice under Article 30(L) of the Rules of Procedure, Mr Aden decried the lack of adequate finances, noting that the Community continued to grapple with challenging times.

The legislator said the matter of sustainable funding mechanism was critical and that all options should now be explored to ensure the Community is and remains stable.

He informed the House that although EAC Financial Rules and Regulations provide that financial contributions from each partner state shall be considered due on the 1st day of July in each financial year and remitted within the first six months of the same, Partner States continue to default and some remain in arrears throughout the financial year.

"I am aware that as of 10th June, 2020, the status of contributions and total outstanding obligations of the partner states (Overall outstanding contribution to the EAC main budget, Inter University Council of East Africa -IUCEA and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization -LVFO) is as follows: Republic of Burundi: 15,089,355 US dollars; Republic of Kenya, US dollars 1,975; Republic of Rwanda: 2,788,429 US dollars; Republic of South Sudan: 27,803,700 US dollars; United Republic of Tanzania: 4,201,845 US dollars; and Republic of Uganda: 1,598,670 US dollars", the legislator told the House.

Mr Aden remarked that the activities of the House as well as emoluments had been halted by lack of timely remittances.

Given the situation EAC faces due to the Covid-19 pandemic, availability of funds was now more crucial than ever.

At debate, Dr Abdulla Makame said the operations of the Community were gravely affected by the delayed remittances.

"If one partner state delays or withholds remittances, then there is a subsequent shortfall and repercussions felt.

This is unfortunately becoming the new normal and there are now activities that have been suspended owing to lack of funds.

"Key Bills such as the East African Monetary Institute Bill and the EAC Statistics Bill, passed in recent times by the Assembly, are really on paper, given the Community is not financed.

A temporary proposal to borrow from the gratuity fund may partially solve the problem, but shall be eroded shortly, further challenging instances where staff complete their contracts," he added.

The Tanzanian President jetted into Kenya yesterday morning for a two-day State visit.

She was received by a delegation led by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Omamo and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and immediately headed to the State House.

The visiting Head of State and her counterpart were out to strengthen the cordial relations between the two countries.

She arrived at State House and received a 21-gun salute, a privilege and tradition given to visiting Heads of State.

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