EAC Tables Bigger 2023/24 Budget Before EALA

The East African Community secretariat has tabled before the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) the budget estimates for the 2023/2024 Financial Year totaling 103,842,880 dollars.

This comes after the regional economic block posted a 4.8 percent growth over the year despite lagging effects of Covid 19 and the war in eastern Europe.

The Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Burundi’s Minister for EAC Affairs, Ezéchiel Nibigira, said this was due to the good performance of the industry, services, construction, mining and manufacturing sectors.

“Global economic growth is expected to remain weak, mainly due to anti-inflationary measures and geopolitical risks, weaker global growth, tight financial conditions and climate change risks,” said the minister.

Nibigira disclosed that the intra-EAC total trade increased by 13.4 percent to 74.03 billion dollars in 2022 from 65.268 billion dollars in 2021. Tis is despite the increaing Non Tariff Barriers being erected by member states against others.

“The major Intra-EAC traded products are cereals, cement, iron and steel, live animals, petroleum products, sugar, foods and beverages, which signify that our economies are agro-based with good signs of moving to industry-based,” he said.

The 2023/2024 Budget is themed “Accelerating Economic Recovery, Climate Change Mitigation and Enhancing Productive Sectors for Improved Livelihoods.”

On priorities for the year 2023/2024, Nibigira said that the Community would focus on nine priority areas, including strengthening of regional governance processes, peace and stability; mobilisation of the private sector and the public for the integration process and; harmonisation of trade related policies, laws and regulations.

Other priority areas are: harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policies, and establishment of requisite institutions towards the realisation of the Monetary Union, and; leveraging modern technologies to enhance productivity, value addition, and to promote regional supply and value chains and digital platforms.

The EAC Secretariat has been allocated 50.93 million dollars, while 4.45 million will go to the East African Court of Justice. The regional parliament, EALA is allocated 17.68 million and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission – 8.47 million dollars. Another 12.4 million will go to the Inter-University Council for East Africa, while the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation gets 2.8 million dollars.

Other organs to benefit from the budget are the East African Science and Technology Commission 2 million, the East African Kiswahili Commission 1.5 million and the East African Health Research Commission 2.2 million dollars.

East African Competition Authority has been allocated 1.39 million dollars. This year’s budget is an increase from the 91,579,215 approved budget by for the 2022/2023 Financial Year.

On the EAC Single Customs Territory, the Minister said that enhancement and interconnectivity of Customs Systems are at the forefront to facilitate seamless exchange of trade information and faster clearance of goods across borders.

Among the achievements this year were the resolution of 23 out of 32 Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) that were reported with the remaining nine NTBs at different stages of resolution, he said.

The Community also finalised and submitted to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat the EAC offers for tariff and services liberalisation.

“This facilitates trade between the EAC Partner States with other African countries under the AfCFTA framework. Additionally, three of the EAC Partner States are participating in the AfCFTA Guided Trade Regime which involves match-making of firms ready to trade within the AfCFTA framework,” he said.

During the year, the Council of Ministers approved the organisational structure for the East African Monetary Institute (EAMI) and initiated the administrative process for identifying the host Partner State for the EAMI.

EAMI is expected to carry out the preparatory work for the creation of the East African Monetary Union. On the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the Minister said that the Assembly had recorded many achievements including the passing of four Bills vital for the integration process.

EALA’s priorities next year will include enactment of pending Bills that are a prerequisite for the establishment of the Monetary Union, as well as those pending from the 4th Assembly. They include The Persons with Disabilities Bill; The EAC Youth Bill; The EAC Cross Border Trade in Professional Services Bill; The EAC Pharmaceuticals Bill and The EAC Emblems (Amendment) Bill.

Also pending are the EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill; The EAC Cultural Heritage Bill; and The EAC Standardization, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment Bill” said the Minister. On the East African Court of Justice, Minister Nibigira said that though the Court has seen an increase in the number of matters filed, it has also seen a considerable increase in its case backlog, from 183 matters in 2021/2022 to 265 matters in this year.

There was a 50 percent increase in the cases filed at the court to 105 over the year. The Minister said that the Court’s priority interventions in the 2023/2024 financial year will be to increase the number of days for its sittings, conclude more cases in a timely manner, enhance the skills of Judges and staff for efficient delivery of justice, conduct sensitisation and awareness programmes in the partner states, and enhance collaboration with other regional and international Courts.

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