By Michael Okidi
The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers is putting in place a raft of mechanisms aimed at ensuring full implementation of programmes and action plans for fast-pacing the integration process.
The Council, at its 37 th meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, directed all implementing organs of the regional bloc to keep track of all decisions earmarked for implementation and ensure adherence to specifications and timelines, if the integration objectives had to be met as planned.
The Council that is chaired by Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Al Hajj Kirunda Kevijinja, and includes Kenya’s EAC and Northern Corridor Development Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya, further directed the EAC Secretariat to continuously monitor, evaluate and report on the progress of all EAC projects and
programmes for efficient implementation.
Members of the Council cited the impending implementation of the directive on issuance of the EAC e-passport as an example of such directives, and urged for speedy action by the Republics of Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda that had so far not commenced its issuance.
To underline its seriousness on ensuring compliance with the implementation of the EAC projects and programmes, the Council directed the Secretariat to prepare a comprehensive paper analyzing the status of implementation of all past Council decisions and directives, with full details about factors responsible for their delayed implementation.
This report should be presented to the next meeting of the EAC Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs and Planning at its next meeting, for further directives on the next possible course of action.
At the same time, Partner States were asked to ensure speedy ratification of all the EAC protocols and deposit instruments of ratification with the bloc’s Secretary General before November 30 th this year.
The directive came amid reports that several protocols had not been ratified by some of the Partner States, thereby making their uniform implementation across the region impossible.
Examples of protocols that had not been fully ratified by the Partner States included Protocol on Immunities and Privileges of the East African Community, its Organs and Institutions and the Protocol to Operationalize the Extended Jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice.
Meanwhile, the Council wants all Partner States to honour their budgetary obligations by promptly paying up their apportionments to enable the Secretariat, Organs and institutions of the Community to function unhindered.
It noted that out of the Community’s approved budget for the Financial Year 2017/2018 of US Dollars 113 million, 52 per cent is expected to be funded by the Partner States contributions, while the remaining 48 per cent is expected to be met with support from Development partners.
However, though the EAC Financial Rules and regulations (2012) require Partner States to disburse their contributions in full within the first six months of the financial year, only 59 per cent of the expected contributions had been received by the Secretariat.
The report of the Council, which is the second highest organ of the Community, usually forms the basis on which the Summit of the Heads of State make their final and binding decisions on the way forward for the bloc.