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Uncertainty clouds East African Community budget tabling

Thursday August 27 2020
EAC PIC

The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Martin Ngoga led by parliamentary soldiers from the hall after adjourning a session that approved the $ 29.4 million emergency budget for the Community after failing to meet the quorum. Photo by Filbert Rweyemamu

Arusha. Uncertainty over the delayed tabling of the 2020/2021 budget of the East African Community (EAC) continued yesterday as the tabling was cancelled at the last minute.
This time, it failed due to lack of quorum as none of the Kenyan members to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) joined turn  the virtual sitting.
Eala Speaker Martin Karoli Ngoga - who was physically present at the EAC video conference room for the virtual tabling of the estimates - appeared frustrated by the scenario.
“We are going through challenging times. First: it was delayed remittances from the partner states - and, now is failure to approve the budget,” he told reporters.
The House was scheduled to convene at 2:30pm; but it had to wait until minutes to 3pm when all the electronic systems were set for the virtual sitting.
However, the sitting could not proceed as none of the nine Kenyan legislators was hooked to the Zoom along with MPs from the other five partner states. Incidentally, all the nine legislators from Tanzania were ‘present’ ahead of the aborted session, while the other four  members had a minimum number for the quorum. Mr Ngoga - a lawmaker from Rwanda who had been conducting Eala business virtually from Kigali since April - said the House will now reconvene at 10pm today.
According to  Eala Rules of Procedure, the House would hold a session when a minimum of three MPs  from each partner state are participating.
Conversely, no EAC Bill tabled and debated by the regional Assembly can be approved without the endorsement of the required minimum number of MPs: 3 from each state.
It could not be established as to why the Kenyan MPs boycotted the session yesterday - thus further delaying approval of funds for the cash-strapped EAC.
The aborted session was to debate on the $29.4 million mini-budget for the EAC - known as ‘Vote-on-Account’ - for the first three months of FY-2020/21.
This has been necessitated by the dwindling resources at the EAC coffers in Arusha which largely depend on remittances in time from the partner states and development partners.

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