EAC Budget Prioritizes Consolidation of Common Market Top story

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In short
The Budget down from USD 130 Million in the previous Financial Year, prioritizes operationalization of the single Customs Territory and the full implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol. Other key areas include development of cross-border infrastructure with particular focus on implementing decisions of the Summit Retreat, implementation of the roadmap towards the EAC Monetary Union, implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area COMESA-EAC-SADC and the sensitization of East Africans towards deepened East Africa integration.

The EAC Council of Ministers has today presented Budget estimates for the Financial Year 2014/2015 totaling USD 124,069,695 to the East African Legislative Assembly sitting in Arusha, Tanzania.

The Budget down from USD 130 Million in the previous Financial Year, prioritizes operationalization of the single Customs Territory and the full implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol.

Other key areas include development of cross-border infrastructure with particular focus on implementing decisions of the Summit Retreat, implementation of the roadmap towards the EAC Monetary Union, implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (COMESA-EAC-SADC) and the sensitization of East Africans towards deepened East Africa integration.

The East African Community Secretariat takes a lion share of the budget with an estimated allocation of USD 76,074,052. The East African Legislative Assembly is allocated USD 15,489,836 while the East African Court of Justice gets an allocation of USD 4,582,190.

Others are the Inter-University Council for East Africa which shall receive USD 9,411,320; Lake Victoria Basin Commission has an allocation of USD 13,372,466 while USD 2,813,771 is earmarked for the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation.  

For the first time, three new Institutions are also set to benefit.   East African Science and Technology Commission shall receive USD 679,821; East African Kiswahili Commission received USD 722,102 and the East African Health Research Commission USD 924,067.

The estimates were presented by Dr. Abdallah Sadala Abdallah, the Tanzanian Deputy Minister for EAC, on behalf of the Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers, Phyllis J. Kandie.

He said the Budget is to be financed by Partner State contributions through the Ministries of EAC which will collectively contribute USD 41,890,538. Partner States through other agencies will contribute USD 5,067,735 while Development Partners support is estimated at USD 73,180,446 among other sources.

In the speech, Dr. Abdallah noted that the EAC Secretariat had developed a Special Economic Zone policy as envisaged under Articles 75 and 76 to boost trade and remarked that substantial progress had been made with regards to the finalization of the EAC-Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) Negotiations.

He added that the move towards deeper economic integration had gained impetus with the signing of the Monetary Union Protocol on November 30th, 2013. He further remarked that the EAC was gearing itself to the harmonization of budget processes, harmonization of tax policies, and co-ordination of public debt management and the attainment of macro-economic convergence among others. 

He informed the House that the region would embark on the procurement, installation and implementation of the Capital Markets infrastructure as one of the key priorities for the next Financial Year.

The Minister noted a number of initiatives in the civil aviation sub-sector aimed at sustainability of the lower EAC Airspace.  In the productive sectors, the Minister revealed the steady progress towards the establishment of the East Africa Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency which he reported aims at providing a platform for sustainable energy in the region.

He also elaborated some of the achievements in the education sector as the development of strategies towards harmonization of education systems and training curricula and the completion of rules and guidelines leading to the harmonization of the EAC Examinations and Assessments.

He noted that in a bid to operationalize the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), negotiations of the Headquarters Agreement between the EAC Secretariat and the Republic of Rwanda for hosting the Commission were concluded in October 2013 and the Headquarters Agreement signed in April 2014.

On immigration and labour, the Minister informed the House the region had remained focused on the internationalization of the New Generation e-East African Passport to take effect by November 2015.

'I am happy to report that Partner States have commenced implementing the roadmap by incorporating the required budget proposals in the 2014/2015 FY for the procurement of the required  infrastructure  and  the  Passport booklets. The budget support for this sub sector during the FY 2014/2015 will therefore focus on the implementation of the roadmap to facilitate the launch of the New e-passport by November 2015', Hon Dr Abdallah remarked.

On the Political Federation, the Minister denoted remarkable progress as having been realized.

 He informed the House that a draft model of the structure of the EAC Political Federation was considered by the Summit of the EAC Heads of State and that national consultations of the model were conducted in all Partner States to enrich and improve the structure.

He however said that finalization and signing of the draft Protocol on Good Governance and the Protocol on Preventing and Combating Corruption had been very slow.  Other areas of intervention include the adoption of the Plan of Action on promoting and protecting human rights due for consideration and the EAC Bill of Human Rights currently undergoing assent.

On the global outlook, the Minister stated that the region is projected to expand to 5.5% in 2014, up from 4.9% in 2013.  The Minister however reported of a significant drop in inflation from 8% in 2012 to 6.3% aided by monetary policy tightening and lower food prices associated with a recovery in local food production.