Ministers clear EAC Secretariat of cash irregularities

Saturday March 28 2015

EALA MPs during a sitting in Arusha. PHOTO | FILE |

The East African Council of Ministers has rejected an audit report that cited irregularities in expenditure at the EAC Secretariat.

Instead, the ministers gave the Secretariat a clean bill of health, saying no over-expenditure had been recorded as stated in the report.

The ministers’ response to the East African Legislative Assembly Accounts Commission’s report had been highly anticipated by the legislators sitting in Bujumbura.

The report, which the commission presented to EALA last month, indicated that the EAC Secretariat overspent on some activities without seeking approval from the Council of Ministers. The most notable over-expenditure was on international air tickets and per diem, which were 300 per cent of the budgeted amount.

READ: $10m down the drain as scandal hits Arusha

The audit report indicated that the Secretariat spent $3.47 million on air travel, or about 10 per cent of its total expenditure. It also reported several anomalies, including tickets issued without authorisation or to the wrong people, and tickets issued to destinations different from those on the authorisation forms.


The EALA members demanded action by the Council of Ministers, with the Speaker asking for a report during the next Assembly.

The ministers informed the regional Assembly that: “An amount of $1,674,084 appropriated by the Assembly was transferred to the EAC General Reserve account as a result of improved efficiency in running the operations, although part was due to unexpended salaries for vacant positions.”

The Council of Ministers exonerated the Secretariat over the impression created by the audit commission’s report that substantial advances were made to staff accounts at the close of the year for activities not undertaken, instead noting that the $384,834 was spent in accordance with the financial rules and regulations, and the activities facilitated were captured within the approved EAC Calendar of Activities. 

“Records of the meetings and acknowledgment from the delegates paid were made available to the Council”, the ministers said. “The EAC management has ensured that since February 2013, daily attendance lists are attached to accountability documents, indicating the participants to all EAC meetings, in addition to boarding passes.”

On the issue of excessive daily subsistence allowances, the Council of Ministers told the House that all the undertaken activities had hitherto received approval by the Assembly.  The ministers further added that all travel was in line with the Calendar of Activities approved by the Council of Ministers and had received operational clearance by management. 

“Concerning the reported anomalies in accountabilities for imprest advances, the Council found that invitations and reports for meetings were not filed together with accountability documents found at the accounts department; however, accountants supported the payments with the boarding passes as evidence that the payees attended the meetings,” noted the ministers.

The Council, however, directed the accountants to always support and reveal all necessary available documents as advised by the Commission. It also recognised weakness in professional qualifications of participants in specific EAC meetings.

“We, therefore, have directed management to prepare invitations which clearly indicate the required calibre, profession and management level of participants in a specific meeting. The Council of Ministers will ensure that only qualified participants from partner states as indicated in the invitation letters are the ones who attend meetings by sampling during our quarterly meeting,” the Council states.

According to Uganda’s Minister for EAC Shem Bageine, the media exaggerated, especially on travel.

“It is unacceptable to generalise that EAC has misused funds given the fact that the nature of work involves travel. The travel budget was in effect approved by this House and I plead with media not to be sensational but to adequately research and report objectively,” he said.

READ: Ministers to slash EAC budgets over audit report