The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) sits today in Arusha, Tanzania to deliberate on regional matters.
The Plenary which takes place from Monday, May 11, 2015 to Friday, May 22, 2015, is the Sixth Meeting of the Third Session of the Third Assembly.
The Assembly is to be presided over by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega.
Top on the agenda during the two week period is the EAC Budget Speech which is expected to be delivered on Thursday, May 14th, 2015 by the Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe.
The Assembly is then expected to debate and approve the Budget as part of its mandate.
The Budget speech is a key activity of the EAC calendar.
Last year, (June 2014), EALA approved the bloc’s budget totaling USD 124,216,995 for the Financial Year 2014/2015.
The 2014/15 Budget prioritized on the operationalization of the Single Customs Territory (SCT) including the setting up of an institutional framework to manage it, the full implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol with particular focus on free movement of goods, services, labour and capital as well as the implementation of the EAC Industrialization policy.
In January this year, EALA further approved a Supplementary Budget of to the tune of USD 2,040,520 out of the budget for the Financial Year ending 30th June 2015.
The Supplementary Budget allocated USD 919,413 to undertake mediatory and confidence building activities prior to the upcoming elections in the region while USD 295,000 was earmarked for the expenditure incurred on maintaining the EAC Regional Food balance sheet and trade help desk.
Another USD 170,000 was set aside to be utilised for the development of the EAC-African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Strategy and Sensitization.
The Supplementary Budget further provided an amount of USD 150,000 to be used for conducting EAC HIV and AIDS Symposia during the period, USD 50,000 for the formulation of the EAC Vision for 2050 and a similar amount for the review of the existing e-Passport issuance legal frameworks.
Two key Bills on the cards at the EALA meeting are the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill, 2015 and the EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014. The EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill 2015, sailed through the First Reading in January this year.
Also on the menu is the debate on the State of EAC Address, which was delivered by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Chairperson of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete on March 19th, 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi.
At the Address, President Kikwete urged Partner States to spare no efforts in ridding the region of Non-Tariff Barriers in order to spur the integration process. He re-affirmed his commitment during his term as Chairperson of the Summit to ensuring total removal of all barriers to trade. The President noted that improved infrastructure would bring down the costs of doing business.