The East African Legislative Assembly is seeking autonomy from the Secretariat in an effort to deal with delays in procurement and to control its budget.
Last month, a committee was set up by the EAC Council of Ministers to look at the dynamics in the Secretariat and EALA that would ease their work.
It is expected to hand its report to the Council by February 2019.
Julius Maganda, Uganda minister of state for East African affairs and the chair of the council of ministers, told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura that autonomy would ensure that neither of the institutions undermined the other.
The committee is composed of three technical experts: One from the office of the EALA clerk, one from the Secretary General’s office and an independent expert from outside the Secretariat.
This came after a request from EALA to create autonomy citing a lot of delays mainly in procurement which are said to be hindering the regional assembly’s business.
The Commonwealth Parliament along which the EALA is modelled, is autonomous.
“This would give EALA the necessary leverage to execute its oversight role, which, in the current circumstances, is difficult,” said George Odongo, an EALA member from Uganda.
According to Mr Odongo it is a practice in member states to protect the integrity of the parliament and the executive, and yet provide the necessary leverage for parliament to exercise its oversight role.
The regional Council of Ministers and the Summit approved the assembly’s request but there was a plan that the secretariat was supposed to review, in order come up with modalities for the autonomy.
Should the regional assembly becomes independent, in a much as the budget will be prepared by the secretariat, it will not be subjected to making requisitions for the its programmes and activities as it will be self-accounting.
“This matter is being considered by both EAC secretariat and the council because we are still limited by the treaty, EAC rules and Regulations and also lack of staff to handle key functions such as procurement,” said the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko.
The East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Court of Justice are the two organs of the community seeking autonomy.
According to the council of ministers the move will reduce the backlogs on the side of SG’s office to create efficiency in the operations of the two organs.
Last month a memo to the Secretary General from the EALA clerk Kenneth Madete indicated that the third meeting of the 2nd session was postponed due to liquidity challenges.
The letter indicated that the postponing of the sitting was caused by the delays in remittance of funds by the partner states as such the assembly did not have sufficient funds to facilitate implementation of the aligned activities.
Burundi, South Sudan and Uganda are the member states having arrears of the financial year 2017/2018 of $6,254,494, $7,371117 and $497330 respectively, the overall budget performance of the East African Community for the Financial year 2016/2017 was at 62% receiving $70 million of the $106 million.
According to the EAC report delays in remittances of contributions from member states have been a major concern that resulted to the suspension of East African Community projects in the last financial year, with only 39% of the contribution for the financial year 2016/2017 was received by December 2016.