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EAC boss tells Minister Kadaga of financial woes

EAC Secretary General Peter Mutuku Mathuki together with senior officials of EAC Secretariat held a consultative meeting with Rebecca Kadaga. 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s East African Community Affairs Minister Rebecca Kadaga has advised EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki to use ‘shuttle diplomacy’ to see member states remit their annual financial contributions.

This, Kadaga said will be more effective than waiting at the Secretariat for members to bring the money, as has been with previous leaderships.

Mathuki together with Deputy Secretaries General, Director General of Customs and Trade, and other senior officials of the EAC Secretariat held a consultative meeting with Kadaga, also Uganda’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister on the current status of the EAC integration process.

The consultative meetings between the EAC Secretariat and the Partner States Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs and Trade are part of the innovative approaches by the EAC Secretariat to brief partner states on a quarterly basis on the status of integration projects and programmes.

The quarterly briefings is also a new approach to managing the affairs of the EAC, especially by keeping all leaders, political and technical, up-to-date, and active.

Mathuki told Kadaga that the objective of the consultative meeting was to report on the achievements and challenges of activities undertaken in various sectors and share available opportunities as well as come up with strategies to strengthen regional integration.

“We at the Secretariat thought it is important for partner states to know the status of their directives and implementation of various projects and programmes on a quarterly basis before our normal policy meetings,” said the Secretary General.

Highlighting some of the achievements during this period of COVID-19, Dr. Mathuki told Uganda’s former Speaker of Parliament that the Secretariat had successfully coordinated regional COVID-19 response through effective partnerships with international and local organizations.

“Some of the interventions made by the Secretariat include the establishment of the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS), which facilitates free movement of people, goods and services in the region, as well as distribution of essential supplies in the region,” said Dr. Mathuki.

The Secretariat managed to conduct a regional rapid assessment of the capacity to respond to COVID-19 and disease outbreaks at 27 cross border points in the region.

On the status of partner states’ financial contributions to the general budget of EAC, the Secretary General commended the partner states for complying with the provisions of the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations by supporting the Community’s budget.

He however urged them all to disburse their statutory contributions in a timely manner to enable the EAC implement its various activities as per the approved budget and calendar of activities.

“While the mandate of the Community has been expanding, the total budget as well as the amount that every partner state contributes to EAC has been reducing,” said Dr. Mathuki.

On her part, Kadaga commended the initiative of the Secretariat on the quarterly consultative meetings with individual partner states, adding that the meetings would help the members to follow closely the implementation of various programmes and projects, and minimize the workload of discussion during Council meetings.

“I praise you Secretariat for this innovative way of keeping the partner states informed on the implementation of various EAC projects and programmes,” said Kadaga.

On the regional COVID-19 response, Kadaga commended the Secretariat on several initiatives on coordination of the regional pandemic response through effective partnerships with international and local organizations but challenged the Secretariat to do more in making sure that partner states are working jointly to contain the pandemic.

“A regional approach is the only way that can save our people in containing the pandemic because of the opportunity it provides for sharing resources, information, training and testing,” said the Minister.

On statutory contributions by the partner states to support the Secretariat, she urged the Secretary General to use the shuttle diplomacy to make sure that every partner state makes its contribution on time.

Tanzania was the first country to meet her 2020/21 contributions, having cleared arrears that had accumulated during the previous regimes.

In the 2020/21 FY, the EAC budget amounted to about 97 million dollars, but this was cut to 90 million for this year, as the Covid-19 pandemic worsened the already bad cash situation caused by delayed remittances.

Each partner state is expected to pay 7.8 million dollars this year.

South Sudan, whose arrears have accumulated to more than three years has asked the EAC for a restructuring of the debt to allow payment in installments.

“This should be done to find a suitable formula for installment repayment over an agreed period,” President Salva Kiir pleaded at the 21st Summit of the Heads of State.

Uganda and Kenya we’re only partly indebted for last year by the end of it, but Burundi’s arrears go as far back as 2019.

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