he East African Community (EAC) has tabled before the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) the budget estimates for the 2021/2022 Financial Year totaling US$91,784,296.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Chief Administrative Secretary Hon Ken Obura, the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Minister for EAC, Hon. Adan Mohamed, said that the 2021/2022 budget comes in the wake of COVID-19 that has ravaged regional economies. The 2021/2022 Budget is themed Economic Recovery through Industrialization and Inclusive Growth.
Mohamed said that the EAC would focus on 10 priority areas, namely: Private Sector Development; Peace and Security; Health/COVID-19 Response; Trade Development; Infrastructure Development and EAC Digitalization Agenda.
Other areas of focus include agriculture, nutrition, biodiversity, environment and circular Economy; Expansion of membership to EAC and strengthening relationships with the African Union and other regional organisations (RECS); Institutional transformation, including skills development, and; promotion of awareness, creation and dissemination of information on the Community.
EAC Secretariat was allocated US$43,858,070; East African Legislative Assembly–US$15,465,345; East African Court of Justice–US$3,791,723; Lake Victoria Basin Commission – US$8,167,585 and the East African Science & Technology Commission–US$1,555,088.
Other allocations went to the East Africa Kiswahili Commission–US$1,284,219; East Africa Health Research Commission–US$1,860,181; East African Competition Authority–US$1,011,136; Inter University Council for East Africa–USD 11,161,510, and; Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization–US$3,629,439.
This year’s budget was lower than US$97,667,707 approved by the August House for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.
“COVID-19 will be with us for a much longer time than earlier expected. The impact of the pandemic on EAC Partner States’ economies has been devastating,” Mohamed said, adding that manufacturing and agriculture sectors have been affected because of disruption in global supply chains and a fall in global demand for key export goods such as horticulture produce.
Similarly, the industrial sector in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda shrunk by 3.5 percent, 0.5 percent and 6.3 percent respectively. In addition, Covid-19 has led to deteriorating external positions in all EAC Partner States on account of its adverse consequences on tourism and aviation sectors, workers’ remittances, foreign direct investment and loan disbursements.
The Chairperson informed the Honourable Members that economic growth in the EAC region averaged 2.3 percent in 2020 compared to an average of 5.4 in 2019.
The most affected sectors were services and affiliated sectors, and those that dependent on global supply chains. Growth in the EAC region is expected to recover in 2021, reflecting a resumption of global economic activity with the easing of containment measures and sustained implementation of growth-supporting measures.”
On the EAC Single Customs Territory, the Cabinet Secretary said that during the next financial year, Customs would focus on some key areas, among them: Finalization of the review and development of Customs Union Instruments including the comprehensive review of the EAC Common External Tariff (CET), EAC Customs Management Act 2004, and the EAC Regional Customs bond and the regulatory framework for the Assembly Sector.
Customs would also focus on the consolidation of the gains of the Single Customs Territory for the full attainment of a fully-fledged Customs Union; enhancement of interconnectivity of systems in key sectors to facilitate information exchange; Development of suitable infrastructure to facilitate cross border women traders and Strengthening of mechanisms to resolve Customs related Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that hamper intra EAC trade.
On the Monetary Union, the CS informed the House that in February 2021, the 40th meeting of the Council of Ministers decided that the Act for the Establishment of the East African Monetary Institute (EAMI) comes into force on 1st July 2021.
On infrastructure development, in the FY 2021/2022, the Chair said that the Secretariat would continue implementing successor multinational road projects linking Partner States and the Phase II One Stop Border Post programme including the design, construction and operationalization of 12 new prioritized OSBPs within the EAC region.
“The Secretariat has further secured funding amounting to USD 1,748,565 from the AfDB for undertaking design of the multinational Burundi/Tanzania Road: Mpanda (Vikonge)-Uvinza and Uvinza-Kanyani/Gisuru-Rusengo and Makebuko-Bugarama sections,” he said.
On civil aviation, the Hon. Mohamed said that EAC Partner States had committed to fully implement the Yamoussoukro Decision as part of the Common Market Protocol and in line with the ongoing efforts by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) to establish and operationalize the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
The Chairperson added that in the next Financial Year, the Assembly would prioritize the enactment of the Bills which are under consideration by its Standing Committees (the EAC Integrity and Anti-Corruption Bill, 2020, the East African Community Pharmaceuticals Bill, 2020; the EAC Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Bill, 2021 and the EAC Livestock Bill, 2021), oversight of implementing EAC COVID-19 Recovery Plan and continued sensitization of the people to support the integration process.
On the East African Court of Justice, the Chairperson informed the Assembly that the number of new cases filed before the Court increased rapidly during the last Financial Year despite the Covid-19 pandemic from 60 in the FY 2019/2020 to 78 in the current financial year.