Attempts to approve the East African Community (EAC) 2020/21 budget failed yet again when lack of a quorum at the East African Legislative Assembly caused by Kenyan members led to the abrupt adjournment of proceedings.
There was only one MP from Kenya, when the matter was brought up for debate, prompting the Speaker Martin Ngoga to adjourn the House.
According to EALA rules, there must be at least three MPs from each partner state for a quorum.
Only Muhiu Wanjiku out of the nine MPs from Kenya was present by the time the house was asked to take a vote.
The special EALA sitting was convened to debate a report by the Committee on General Purpose that would align the EAC Budget with the Council of Ministers proposal of $97million.
In September, the Assembly had approved $104 million prompting another session to re-align the figures with Council’s. But last week’s lack of quorum was prompted by the Council of Ministers, when they opposed EALA’s virtual and physical meetings revised schedule as presented by the Committee on general purpose.
“The motion before the house is that the report of the committee on General Purpose on re-consideration of the EAC Appropriation Bill 2020 be adopted,” said Martin Ngoga, speaker to the EALA.
“But we cannot proceed due to a lack of quorum. I therefore adjourn the Assembly sine die.”
The report presented before the Assembly on December 10, recommends among other things, the need for the reallocation of funds to reinstate the activities of the Secretariat, additional funding for EALA plenary sessions and extra days for Court Sessions.
While the report made changes to the activities of the Assembly without altering the $97 million budget, the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the EAC Prof Nshuti Manasseh urged the Assembly to revisit the figures and cap them as contained in the budget speech delivered.
“The Council has consulted and arrived at the decision and therefor urge you to consider as presented in the budget speech,” said Prof Nshuti.
He further informed the house that Burundi and Tanzania had opposed any proposals of increment on the regional bloc’s budget.
His sentiments were supported by Tanzania's deputy minister for Foreign Affairs and EAC William T. Ole Nasha, who was sworn in during the debate.
It is at this stage that a section of MPs rose to oppose the ministers stand leading to a lack of quorum, as a section of MPs declined to approve the debate.