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EALA APPROVES SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET OF USD 2 MILLION FOR EAC PROGAMMES

 

East African Legislative Assembly; Arusha, Tanzania, January 28, 2015: The Assembly late yesterday passed the EAC Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2015 providing a supplementary expenditure to the tune of USD 2,040,520 out of the budget for the Financial Year ending 30th June 2015.

 Of the said amount, USD 99,840 will come from the EAC General Reserve Fund while USD 1, 940,680 is to be sourced from development partners.

 The supplementary budget allocates USD 919,413 to undertake mediatory and confidence building activities prior to the upcoming May-June 2015 elections. The support from the European Union will assist the EAC/COMESA/AU Early Response mechanism (ERM) – African Peace Facility support to implement activities in the COMESA/EAC region.

It is part of on-going efforts by the regional economic communities to consolidate democracy and promote peaceful elections in the region.The Chair of the Council, Hon Dr. Abdalla Sadaala Abdalla presented the Supplementary Budget for the Financial Year 2014/2015 to the House.

USD 295,000 is earmarked for the expenditure incurred on maintaining the EAC Regional Food balance sheet and trade help desk while USD 170,000 shall be utilised for the development of EAC-African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Strategy and sensitisation. 

The Supplementary Budget further provides for USD 150,000 to be used for the expenditure incurred on conducting the EAC HIV and AIDS Symposium during the period.  The Minister, Dr. Abdalla Sadaala maintained that the symposium under the theme ‘Getting to Zero in the EAC region’ will focus specifically on HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Sexually Transmitted Infections. 

A similar amount is required to support the expenditure for carrying out a baseline survey on population, health and environment (2015-2020).

 An assessment study on the needs and preparedness of the Partner States to implement the new generation E-Passport and a review of the existing passport issuance legal frameworks shall also get a boost following the allocation of USD 49,840 to the activity.

 According to the Chair of the Council of Ministers, procurement of the necessary e-passport issuance infrastructure, passport booklets and capacity building for the immigration personnel need to be integrated into the 2015/16 budget cycle. The phase-out programme of the national passports as proposed in the roadmap shall be customised by each Partner State to address the respective needs and peculiarities. 

USD 50,000 shall be earmarked for the formulation of the EAC Vision for 2050.  A Multi-disciplinary team of experts shall be engaged to ensure success in the exercise.

The Assembly resolved itself into a Committee of Ways and Means to consider the Financial Statement for the Financial Year 2014/15 and A Committee of Supply to consider and approve the Revised Estimates of Expenditure for the Financial Year 2014/15.

Prior to this, the Committee on General Purpose presented its report on the EAC Supplementary Appropriation Bill which was debated and received support from the Members.  Rising up to make contributions were Hon Yves Nsabimana, Hon Dora Byamukama, Hon Mumbi Ngaru, Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro and Hon Bernard Mulengani.  Others were Hon Hafsa Mossi, Hon Pierre Celestin Rwigema  and Hon Abubakar Zein.

Meanwhile, six other new Bills also sailed through the first reading in the House.

The EAC Electronic Transactions Bill 2014 makes provision for the use, security facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions to encourage the use or e-government service and to provide for related matters.

The Bill is premised on Article 103 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC in which Partner States recognizing the fundamental importance of science and technology in economic development, undertook to promote cooperation in the development of science and technology in the Community.  This can be achieved through the promotion, development and application of Information technology in the EAC.

The Bill moved by Dr. James Ndahiro anticipates that Partner States need to create a proper environment for all possible users and beneficiaries of ICT to educate them on the operations involving electronic transactions and in doing so, make necessary amends to ensure security of users of ICT.   It is further states that the Community needs to make effective use of ICTS.

The East Africa Science and Technology Commission, 2015 anticipates the formation of the East Africa Science and Technology Commission as an Institution of the Community in recognition of the fundamental importance of collaboration in science and technology for economic development.

In its institutional arrangements, the Bill establishes a Governing Board with a Secretariat, which shall be the executive arm of the Commission.   The Bill which is moved by the Council of Ministers will greatly enhance the integration of the people of East Africa in addition to fulfilling the mandates of the Partner States as specified under Article 103 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.  In terms of funding, it is envisaged the Commission shall draw funds from the Community’s budget, from stakeholders’ contributions, development partners and other sources determined by the Council.

In a bid to spur competition in the region, the Council of Ministers is also set to introduce the EAC Competition (Amendment) Bill 2015.  The Bill seeks to amend the Competition Act in order to establish a mechanism to eliminate counterfeiting and piracy trade in the Community.

This is seen as crucial in providing impetus in order to promote industrialisation and economic growth.  The Bill further anticipates to create a conducive investment climate in the Community, free of unfair competition practices embodied in counterfeiting and policies and to promote the creation of intellectual property rights in the Community.

Closely related to trade issues is the EAC Customs Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015. The principal object of the Bill is to amend the East African Customs Management Act, 2004 to facilitate the discharge of the functions of the Directorate of Customs and Trade as provided for in the Act and to facilitate smooth implementation of the Act, particularly on the procedures that facilitate the implementation of the EAC Single Customs Territory.  The new Bill hopes to amend 9 sections and to introduce a new section on importation of goods

Hon Dr. James Ndahiro has also introduced a Private Members Bill on the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill 2015 which sailed through the First reading.   According to the mover of the Bill, Creative and Cultural industries are considered one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy and contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many developed and developing countries

The object of the Bill is to promote the creative and cultural industries at the EAC.  The Bill seeks to establish the Creative and Cultural Industries Council that shall provide an environment conducive to the enhancement and stimulation of creativity and innovative endeavours among the citizens of the Community. 

Once formed, the Council shall provide high quality training for skills and creativity development and formulate policies and strategies that shall stimulate creativity and innovations among the youth to ensure long term supply of talents

Although the East African region has the potential to develop new areas of wealth and employment as it is rich in cultural heritage and inexhaustible pool of talents, the region still remains a marginal player in the global market.

Nurturing and exploitation of creative and cultural industries in the EAC through an effective regional legal framework can contribute to job creation, income generation and poverty alleviation.

Also sailing through was the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Bill, 2015.