The East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Martin Ngoga spoke with Luke Anami on EAC budget impasse and pending MPs’ salaries and allowances.
Have salaries for EALA members been paid? What about allowances?
There are pending claims by members, which has been caused by non-remittances by partner states. But also, the Assembly has so far not spent more than 65 percent of its budget, and that is the cause of the outstanding claims.
One of the contention between the EAC Secretary-General and MPs is the payment of daily subsistence allowance. Will EALA MPs be paid this allowance even when they have been working from home and not travelling?
To my knowledge, there is no such contention. Allowances and other entitlements for MPs are defined in the relevant regulations and decisions of the Summit. They are not subject to negotiations. The only challenge we have and which we are working to resolve, is getting our share of the budget so that we can discharge our obligations to members and service providers. The Secretariat is the accounting organ of the Community and that is why we involve them.
On June 29, Abdikadir Aden, chairman of the general-purpose budget committee demanded the 2020/21 budgetary estimates from the EAC Secretary-General. Has your office received them? If not, why?
We have not yet received them but we are expecting them not later than July 15 which is the last day of extension I granted for late submission. The Council of Ministers is planning to approve and present them to the Assembly this coming week. We have a challenge. We need to end the practice of delaying statutory meetings and this is something we shall have to reflect on seriously in the coming days
Secretary-General claims he presented the budget estimates to the House, but the Council of Ministers denied this during Tuesday's virtual EALA session. What is your take on the matter?
I think you got him wrong. There was no presentation of budget estimates but a request for a vote on account. That only happens when organs are not ready to follow the usual statutory roadmap of budgeting.
What makes it difficult for the Secretary-General to present budgetary proposals on time? When are you likely to finalise the budget?
The problem has been the inability of the Council of Ministers to meet on time. They are the organ that approves estimates and brings them to the Assembly. There have been several attempts to convene the Council which have had hitches as explained by partner states and Secretariat. We are working to address this concern.
What is your take on the use of consensus within the EAC decision-making process?
Consensus can be realised or not only when meetings and discussions take place. But in this case we are talking about the absence of meetings, where consensus is made.