Uganda MPs hit out at Kenya over EAC CHARLES KAZOOBA reports THE EAST AFRICAN The Ugandan EALA members made a scathing attack on Kenya after refusing to pass the blocs budget for the next financial year. Legislators representing Uganda at the East African Legislative Assembly have accused the Kenyan government of failing to honour its financial obligations to the Community, and have also accused technocrats at the EAC Secretariat of failing to account for money received from donors, saying they spend most of it on themselves. The Ugandan EALA representatives made these scathing attacks on their return to the country last week after refusing to pass the blocs budget for the next financial year. A new budget is now being drawn up and is expected to be passed on June 17. MP Dora Byamukama accused Kenya, which has the biggest economy in the five-state community, of showing little commitment to the EACs affairs. Kenya is funny, she said, They think they are the economic giant of the region. Although the Ugandan legislators claimed that Kenya as well as the two new EAC member states of Rwanda and Burundi have not paid in their contributions of $4.7 million to the EAC, most of the criticism was directed at the regions economic powerhouse. If you want to share our national (regional) cake, you must contribute. I am just being polite by saying Kenya has not fulfilled all its obligations, Ms Byamukama said at a joint news conference she addressed with fellow EALA legislators from Uganda Lydia Wanyoto, Mike Ssebalu and Bernard Mulengani. She added: We are disappointed with Kenya. They should not be doing that, especially after we contributed $600,000 from our pockets to them when they were in a crisis. The East African Community has proposed a budget of $30.6 million, which must be equally contributed by Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya for its normal operations. But according to the Ugandan legislators, only Tanzania and Uganda have paid up, though the budget must be debated and passed by the Assembly next month. The delay will have a great impact on the Communitys affairs, an infuriated Mr Mulengani said. The budget was read on May 15 but was deferred to cater to the legislators concerns. EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu has assured MPs that the revised budget will be tabled on June 17. However, when The EastAfrican contacted the EAC boss, Mr Mwapachu dismissed Ugandas concerns that Kenya had not yet paid up its contribution. He said: No, no, no; Kenya has paid. Why should they (Ugandan legislators) talk outside the assembly? We have a lot of money at the Secretariat, he added, but could not say when Kenya had honoured its contribution. The chairman of the East African Council of Ministers, Ugandas Eriya Kategaya, was not available for comment. Ms Byamukama did not spare the new member states either. Even if you are new members, you must have prepared yourselves to honour the obligations, she said of Rwanda and Burundi, who were admitted with equal status to the Community last year. Ms Byamukama said they would soon seek to strengthen and enforce Article 143 of the Treaty, which presently stipulates that sanctions can be imposed on defaulting member states at the discretion of the Council of Ministers. The criticism of Kenya follows a rift between the EA Assembly and the Secretariat over the proposed budget estimates that the former threw out claiming the proposals had been designed to cater only for travels and seminars. The budget estimates indicate that member-state contributions will total $23.4 million; development partners $6.3 million and others $812,706. According to the budget proposals, most development plans have not been financed. Mr Mulengani, who sits on the General Purpose Committee of the assembly charged with scrutinising the budget allocations, told journalists that the Secretariat allocated itself $5.9 million even though the EA Assembly was not allocated any money and the EA Court of Justice was allocated less than half of what they had asked for. But even then, the allocations were interpreted by the legislators as money meant for luxuries at the expense of development. In Arusha, depending on how one slept, [technocrats] wake up and pick an air ticket from the table and travel without prior planning, an irate MP Lydia Wanyoto said. The ministers are not there to clear those travels. It is absurd that we are not getting the value for money which we are demanding. She added, We are going to demand that all meetings be held by video conferencing. People should discuss issues and communicate via the Internet from their member states. According to the budget estimates seen by The EastAfrican, there is no allocation for the rollout of the Customs Union to Rwanda and Burundi, neither have the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements between the EAC and the European Union been allocated funds, despite the two parties having signed an interim agreement late last year and a final one to be inked next year. Also, trade negotiations between EAC and Comesa/SADC have not been given any money. The EAC member states, with the exception of Kenya, have signed a Joint Negotiations Bill. The Common Market negotiations and Monetary Union preparations have been allocated $300,000, though $1.4 million had been requested.