The East African Community budget has been decreasing despite the number of programmes remaining the same.
However, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Community Adan Mohamed said this was deliberate and in tune with the economic climate.
In an interview with The EastAfrican, Mr Mohamed said the economies of EAC member countries, just like others around the world, have been hit by the pandemic, resulting in reduction in their tax revenues.
The countries had to pay stimulus packages for businesses to stay afloat, forcing the governments to operate within the economic circumstances now in the region.
The EAC budgetary allocations have in the recent past been reduced to $91 million in 2021, down from $97 million in 2020 and $111 million in 2019.
On regional trade and recent reports that Kenya was importing more than it was exporting to neighbouring countries, Mr Mohamed said it was a sign of regional growth and that the more intra-trade in the region the better, as it showed sufficient movement of goods and eventually services in all directions as opposed to one way flow.
According to Mr Mohamed, Kenya is now buying competitively closer home as opposed to importing from outside the region’s Customs Union. The CS admits that Kenya’s cost of agriculture production is high compared with Tanzania and Uganda, especially for staples like maize, beans and wheat and with an ever growing demand, the only solution is to import from those partner states who can produce cheaper. And this is basically agricultural produce for direct consumption.
The ministries of Agriculture and Treasury are however looking into ways of supporting farmers, to make their produce more competitive while other departments support by having some guarantee in minimum markets.
On sugar import quotas especially from Uganda, Mr Mohamed said Kenya, as a matter of principle, is committed to EAC Customs Union and Common Market Protocol.
But he said, suspicions of abuse of the regulations around sugar imports and the Rules of Origin by a few rogue private sector business is the genesis of the problem.