SUNDAY May 15, 2022
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
South Sudan has committed itself that it will settle its outstanding contributions to the East Africa Community (EAC) main Budget in three year’s period.
The civil war-torn partner state owed the bloc about $34.8 million by April 4, 2022, in its outstanding contributions to the EAC main Budget.
The South Sudan government assured the 47th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers last month that it would pay $5 million by end of April 2022.
It also promised to submit its plan during the 42nd Ordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers showing the remaining outstanding contributions it would be remitting in installments in the three years’ time.
The partner states’ total outstanding contributions stood at over $48 million by early last month with Burundi alone owing the EAC main Budget $11.1 million followed by Uganda over $2 million.
Burundi disbursed over $4.3 million between December last year and March, 2022, of which $2.6 was its contribution to the 2021/22 financial year and $1.7 was meant for settlement of its arrears.
Aggregate contributions for the outgoing 2021/22 financial year stand at over $44.1 million, but until last month, partner states remitted about $28.9 million, equivalent to 68 per cent.
While Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania had cleared their outstanding contributions by early last month, Uganda pledged to complete its outstanding balance within this 4th quarter of the 2021/22 financial year.
The EAC organs, institutions and programmes have been facing liquidity hiccups lately, leading to some activities to be put on hold, pending payment of the outstanding contributions from the partner states.
Each partner state was supposed to contribute $7,352,138 to the EAC main Budget in 2021/22 to finance activities of the organs, institutions and programmes of the bloc.
The regional economic community comprises three organs, namely the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Court of Justice.
It also comprises seven institutions, namely the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, the Inter-University Council for East Africa, the East African Health Research Commission, the East African Competition Authority, the East African Kiswahili Commission and the East African Science and Technology Commission.
The East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) had in 2019 submitted a petition to the regional assembly of the community, calling for suspension of the South Sudan’s membership.
EACSOF also asked the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to demand for an increased EAC Budget from the Council of Ministers for the bloc to cope with the rising wage bill compounded by its expanding scope and swelling number of its institutions.
“EACSOF is seriously worried about the dwindling contributions by partner states towards financing the EAC and more concerned by the non-remittance by one partner state,” the forum’s Programme Coordinator and Acting CEO, Ms Martha Makenge, said in the petition to the regional House.
The House unanimously concurred with the EACSOF petition, asking the EAC Council of Ministers to recommend to the Heads of State Summit to suspend South Sudan’s membership in the bloc, pending settlement of its arrears.
It maintained that the EAC partner states’ delayed contributions were inhibiting the bloc from attaining goals it had set for itself, albeit with some EALA members sympathising with the oil-rich South Sudan on grounds that it was still going through political and security hiccups.
During its 40th meeting, the EAC Council of Ministers directed the secretariat to submit a proposed draft schedule of sanctions to partner states, but only Uganda had until early last month commented on it ready for the council to adopt it in its 42nd meeting.
Article 143 of the EAC Treaty says a partner state, which defaults in meeting its financial and other obligations, shall be subject to sanctions which the Council of Ministers will recommend to the Summit.
Article 146(1) says the Summit may suspend a partner state from taking part in activities of the bloc if it fails to fulfill fundamental principles and objectives of the Treaty, including the failure to meet financial commitments to the community within a period of 18 months.
A suspended partner state shall cease to enjoy benefits provided for under the Treaty but shall continue to be bound by membership obligations until the suspension is lifted, Article 146(2) says, in turnΩ