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Budget Constraints Hit EALA, Resorts to Video Conferencing

10:13 pm

East African Legislative Assembly to resort to Video Conferencing to cut down on expences

The East African Legislative Assembly will start holding its sessions through video conferencing to cut down on challenges of inability to sustain its budget demands.

The system is expected to start with the 4th EALA in June this year.

With the current threat of member states failing to submit their remittances to the EAC secretariat on time, EALA proposed activities are expected to be implemented at the lowest rates ever in the history of the community.

Each of the five EAC member states is required to make a contribution of $8,378,108 before 31st December of every year.

But during the recent (March) EALA session in Kigali, a motion on EAC budget for financial year 2016-2017, moved by Nancy Abisai (Kenya) showed that Burundi had not contributed in this financial year and had arrears worth $771,037 from the previous fiscal year.

However, no country has paid all dues for this financial year.

For the fiscal year 2016/17 remittances from Uganda were highest with 91.53 percent ($7,668,419), followed by Kenya at 52.4 percent ($4,395,707), Rwanda at 48.07 percent ($4,027,316) and Tanzania at 30.47 percent with $2.553.203.

“We have already installed video conference equipment in each member states. Not all meetings need to travel to attend in order to transact EAC business. This is a very effective way of cutting budget expenditures but we cannot go beyond the budget sealing,” said Patricia Hajebakiga during a press briefing, this May 2, 2017, on Rwanda’s commitment and achievements in EALA.

EALA members expect the contribution of new EAC member states like Sudan, to boost the budget support, but in the meantime the council of ministers is expected to device other means to have a sustainable budget, free from member countries.

“We (Rwanda) have agreed with the finance ministry that the balance for EAC remittances will be fully paid not later than May 15, 2017,” Hajebakiga said.

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly. Member countries have failed to honour their required remittances to facilitate EALA activities

Unfinished business

Albinos in Rwanda can now have hope that Rwanda will push the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to pass a bill on wavering tax on creams for persons with skin disabilities as part of the bill of disabled persons.

In 2016, EALA asked EAC partner States to take effective measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against albinos – with a suggestion that all taxes on creams used by albinos be scrapped.

“It’s true a draft bill on albinos was proposed but EALA has not passed the bill yet. But we will continue to encourage other states to support this bill to improve the life of albinos because it’s not expensive to cut the waiver on these kind of taxes,” Hajebakiga said.

The Resolution urging all Partner States to protect the rights and the freedoms of persons living with albinism was moved by Tanzania’s representative Shyrose Bhanji at EALA sitting in Zanzibar.

By January 2018, all EAC members will be able to acquire community passports- which will have features of member states and procurement has already been done, according to EALA Rwanda members.

However Rwanda will have to wait longer than 2022 to see the EAC railway project reach Kigali.

Who is who in Rwanda?

By June this year, all Rwanda and other EALA members who have served for two terms (five years each) in the third EALA assembly will not be allowed to return to the house.

By the EAC treaty, every member state sends nine lawmakers to each assembly and EALA members can serve up to two terms.

Thus, Dr. James Ndahiro, Patricia Hajabakiga, Straton Ndikuryayo, Valerie Nyirahabineza, and Odette Nyiramirimo are not eligible for reelection.

Martin Ngoga, Oda Gasinzigwa, Pierre Céléstin Rwigema and Dr. François Xavier Kalinda are still eligible.

“We cannot speak about who will be elected. It is too early and not a concern,” one of the Rwanda EALA MPs said.

The third EALA session will close on June 4, 2017 but has seen Rwanda play a significant role in pushing for the 27 bills passed during the assembly.

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