Ministry matters

Funding East Africa Ministry of Community Affairs Better-MPs

The Parliamentary Committee for East African Community Affairs has instructed the Ministry of Finance to prioritize funding for the Ministry of East African Community Affairs.

Committee members say that the low budget allocation to the ministry has affected its ability to carry out its main activities at the national and regional levels.

The Chairman of the Committee, the Hon. Noeline Basemera, said that the budgeting of the Ministry of East African Community Affairs has been on a downward trend for the past two consecutive financial years, but the EAC is expanding its boundaries.

“The ministry’s activities are so minimal that they sometimes go unnoticed. The ministry is badly wobbled and without integration into the EAC, our economy cannot grow efficiently,” Basemera said.

She observed that the ministry’s budget for the financial year 2019/2020 was 52.2 billion shillings, it was reduced to 39 billion shillings for the financial year 2020/2021 and further reduced for the financial year 2021 /2022 at 31.5 billion shillings.

Hon. James Baba (NRM, Koboko County) noted that the East Africa Ministry of Community Affairs has limited funds to promote EAC mainstreaming activities in Uganda, limited to covering contributions only to the EAC and staff salaries.

“Meetings are called in Arusha, Dar-es-Salaam or Bujumbura, and we have no participants because the money given to other MDAs is used for other factors than the problems of the South African Community. east,” Baba said.

He also said that the ratification and conclusion of agreements often end up being delayed, due to Uganda’s low attendance at EAC meetings.

“The ministry’s work has been undermined and is drinking now,” he added.

Butebo Woman MP, Hon. Agnes Ameede, said the continental free trade area was being negotiated but Uganda needed to position itself in the market.

She added that the Ugandan private sector has an important role to play in securing this market and tasked the Ministry of EAC to work with the sector to provide opportunities for ordinary Ugandans.

“The Minister of Finance should engage in a serious conversation with the Ministry of Commerce, the private sector and the Ministry of EAC. We are working hard in DR Congo to create peace and open roads, but what are we going to get out of this deal? Amédée asked.

The Minister of State for Finance for General Duties, Hon. Henry Musasizi, said the best way forward will be to pursue commitments to develop mechanisms to address the gaps of concern, which will then increase the visibility of the EAC ministry.

He added that market access for Ugandan products is part of the national budget strategy.

“We need your support on our industrialization program which will play into the activities of the ministry,” Musasizi said.

Regarding the unfunded priorities of the ministry amounting to 16.8 billion shillings, Musasizi said that the national budget for the financial year 2022/2023 has been redistributed to finance the priorities identified in the budget strategy and in support of the NDPIII.

“These include the parish development model, improved salaries for scientists, and activities to facilitate the final oil and gas investment decision. The EAC Ministry can streamline priorities not funded with the available budget,” Musasizi said.

While presenting responses to questions raised by the Committee on EAC Ministry Policy Statement, Permanent Secretary Edith Mwanje said that a proposal to house all funding for EAC activities under the The ministry’s umbrella should be realized in the long term.

She also said that the Minister for East African Community Affairs will seek a cabinet decision for the ministry to be included in the MDAS whose budgets are protected from cuts.

Mwanje also said the ministry needs 1.2 billion shillings to host the 22nd EAC Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, a trade fair scheduled for April 27, 2022 which is among the unfunded priorities.

“We made a submission to the Ministry of Finance and we have not yet received a positive response,” she said.

Member of Parliament for Dokolo North County, Hon. Moses Ogwal, said the ministry must become more aggressive in pushing for resources to carry out its key activities, adding that they should not be left to be carried out in the long term.

The Minister of State for East African Community Affairs, Hon. James Magode Ikuya, said that consolidating the ministry’s activities to include raising awareness among citizens about EAC programs will go a long way in improving its visibility.

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