The EAC Secretariat has been forced to suspend most of its programmes due to a budgetary shortfall, blamed on the failure by partner states to submit their contributions.
Sources at the regional body say that countries owe the Secretariat more than $3.8 million from the last financial year.
The latest report tabled before the EAC Council of Ministers in Arusha recently showed Burundi is the leading defaulter, followed by Tanzania and Uganda.
The report, which has been seen by The EastAfrican, shows that Burundi owes the EAC $2.9 million from the past fiscal year, Tanzania’s arrears stand at $897,546 and Uganda’s debt is $19,075.
Kenya and Rwanda have clean records for the past financial year.
For the current fiscal year, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have not remitted the first tranche of their contributions, nearly three months after the budget was approved.
As of August 11, the report shows, the EAC had received only $870,463, equivalent to 2.08 per cent of the total partner states’ budgetary contributions of $41.9 million, crippling the EAC organs and institutions.
Uganda and Kenya have remitted $868,891.94 and $1,571.60 respectively for the current financial year.
Contacted for comment, EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera directed The EastAfrican to the deputy secretary general in charge of Finance and Administration Dr Libérat Mfumukeko, who had not responded to our enquiries by the time we went to press.
As the EAC partner states drag their feet in remitting their contributions, donors too appear to be rethinking their role due to Burundi’s controversial election that gave President Pierre Nkurunziza a third term in power.
Donors to the EAC budget include Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, DfID-UK, the European Union, the World Bank and Norway.
Analysts say that they see a bleak future for Africa’s most ambitious trading bloc.
Law lecturer at Tumaini University Makumira, Elifuraha Laltaika, said that given the importance of the EAC, member states should find alternative ways of funding the body sustainably.
“This is a very important regional economic community and indeed a model for the continent, but lack of funds may erode the achievements made,” said Mr Laltaika.
The debate over an alternative financing mechanism for the EAC has been on the table since 2012.
The bloc has been negotiating for an equitable formula for determining contributions by each country to meet its budget, 70 per cent of which is donor-funded.
Currently, member states make equal contributions to the Secretariat.
The Secretariat had proposed a one per cent levy on imports value for each member state to finance its operations.
The model was, however, rejected by Kenya and Tanzania, the biggest net importers, as they would have to contribute more to the Secretariat.