The poor working relations between the EAC Secretariat and East African Legislative Assembly, evident in the recent chaotic and delayed 2020/21 budget approval process, has forced EALA to contemplate running its own financial calendar and is now plotting to run autonomously from the Secretariat.
The bad blood was exacerbated by failure by the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko to settle pending sitting allowances for EALA MPs amounting to Ksh2.5 million ($25,000).
“The EAC Partner States can only remit their contributions once the budget is passed. As we speak, the budget has been tabled but is yet to be passed. So where will this money the EAC Secretary General keeps promising come from?” said Abdikadir Aden, MP, Kenya.
“We intend to bring a motion that will grant us the powers to run our own calendar without interference from the Secretariat.”
But it is not only the allowances that have led to the current tussle between the two institutions.
The nature of their operations and funding process for EALA by the EAC secretariat appears to be at the heart of the matter. According to the EAC budget allocations, EALA is the only top organ, whose budget is directly funded by contributions from the partner states.
Both the EAC Secretariat and the East African Court of Justice are funded by multiple sources including contributions from donors and partner states to the disadvantage of the Assembly.
“EALA is funded directly by Partner States. So when they delay in remitting their contributions, like it has been the case each financial year, it is EALA that suffers most,” said Mr Aden, former General Purpose EALA Committee.
“This implies that EALA can hardly absorb 60 per cent of its budget simply because there is no money from the partner states in the course of the year. Even the Council of Ministers in its last report has acknowledged this challenge.”
By its very nature of operation, EALA MPs are expected to be paid allowances per sitting.