Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation Susan Kolimba, yesterday, presented 2016/17 Budget Estimates for the regional bloc totaling $101,374,589 to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha, Tanzania.
Dr Kolimba, who was standing in for the Chair of the Council of Ministers, told the House that the latest region's budget has seven key priority programmes, including full implementation of the EAC Single Customs Territory, and enhanced implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol.
The 2016/17 Budget is nearly $10 million less than the $110,660,098 million envelope presented to the House last year.
Another priority, she said, is development of cross-border infrastructure and harmonisation of laws, policies and standards in the various sub-sectors.
Others are implementation of liberalised EAC air space, enhanced implementation of computerised weather prediction models, implementation of a One Network Area in telecommunications, and convening the fourth Heads of State retreat on infrastructure development and financing.
The new budget also prioritises the enhancement of productivity and value addition in key productive sectors, including regional agricultural and industrial value chains, and strengthening capacity for food security, natural resources tourism, and wildlife management.
It will also focus on harmonisation of policies, legislation, regulations and standards to establish an EAC Energy Common Market, including work on an EAC Energy Exchange and finalising energy interconnectors across borders; and implementation of EAC Peace and Security Initiatives.
Among others, the EAC Political Federation is again a key priority area as the mode of the regional Constitution making process commences.
For the new Budget, partner states' contributions will be $47,565,377 compared to $47,566,973 in the closing Budget.
The development partners' support of $46.7 is also a significant drop from $58.5 in the previous year.
The minister highlighted a number of achievements registered in the Financial Year 2015/16, notably, the upscaling of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) through finalisation of operational instruments of the business manuals, deployment of SCT monitoring and evaluation tools, and deployment of staff in partner states.
She said 10 out of the 15 One Stop Border Posts in the region are already operational.
Challenges to deal with
Dr Kolimba also listed key challenges expected during the new budget's execution, including slow pace in harmonisation of domestic taxes to facilitate the functioning of the Single Customs Territory, inadequate political mobilisation for the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol, and maintenance of the key macro-economic criteria essential for the establishment of a single market for financial services.
But strategies for mitigating the above challenges, she noted, have been considered, citing finalisation and implementation of the policy on harmonisation of domestic taxes, among others.
The Community will also finalise the sustainable financing mechanism for a more sustainable source of funds for implementation of programmes.
"This is critical in the face of dwindling financial resources from development partners," she said.
Source: The New Times