The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers has resumed business this Monday in Arusha, Tanzania to address relentless demands by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MPs for million-dollar allowances for virtual meetings conducted during Covid-19 pandemic.
This website, understands that the EAC council has multiple times been pressurized by the hungry and inconsiderate legislators to approve the budget for “no work done.”
Officials at Arusha described the move by the MPs as “pathetic and difficult financial situation of the Assembly (EALA).”
A financial investigation carried out clandestinely by his news site reveals that in today’s meeting the Council will be addressing EALA’s claim for so-called Daily Subsistence Allowances (DSA) that are allegedly owed to EALA MPs.
These are allowances that would compensate the MPs for virtual meetings (Zoom and videoconference) that they would have held from their homes or from EAC Ministries in the capitals where they reside; and the bill tantamounts to $1,660,000.
The MPs’ endless demand for the money comes at a time most Member States are grappling with Coronavirus that continues to kill thousands of their citizens and crashing economies.
TrumpetNews has reliably learnt that the allowance issue has been on the agenda of all Council meetings since August 2020, but the Ministers have always categorically refused to pay these allowances that they consider incompatible with the laws in force in the EAC.
“Indeed, the Council will have, rightly, done everything to curb the long-standing illegal and abusive conduct by EALA MPs,” an official at Arusha who said he was disgusted with the MPs’ conduct said.
“Indeed, the following two examples would suffice to show how EALA has become a cash cow for members who do not care about the laws and the misery of the people of our region,” he added.
The audit of EALA for fiscal year 2018/2019 showed that travel expenses in excess of 6 million US dollars were made without supporting documentation; and during fiscal years 2019/20 and 2020/21, EALA has already paid more than U.S $2 million in travel expenses, still without sufficient supporting documents.
Our investigation shows that all these payments are contrary to the laws and regulations of the EAC which only EALA violates while the two other organs (Secretariat and Court of Justice) and the 8 institutions of EAC are required to respect them to the latter.
The greedy lawmakers are worsening the situation while claiming the arrears of 1.66 million dollars for virtual meetings that they have held from their homes or from EAC ministries in the capitals where they reside.
Further, the Monday meeting will also discuss a submitted a request to increase its budget for fiscal year 2021/2022:
“14 additional days of plenary meetings ($440,300), 10 days of sensitization campaign ($237,500) and the holding of inter-parliamentary sports games ($300,000); in short, a total budget supplement of $ 997,800 which will end up in the pockets of MPs. And EALA requests that this un-budgeted amount be borrowed from the EAC General Reserve Fund where EALA already has a debt of over $2 million,” a separate official said.
Multiple sources we interviewed at the Secretariat said the move by the legislators is selfish and shameful aberration when they know that the EAC budget from member countries does not even allocate $500,000 to the most important sectors like agriculture, health or education; for these sectors the EAC is almost 100% donor dependent.
“The illogicality that sets in is that instead of creating development projects, meetings and other events are developed to generate allowances which add to the salaries of MPs (more than $6,000 / month). EALA alone already consumes more than 35% of the money paid by member states to the EAC.”
Is EALA a financial embezzlement hub?
Has EAC Council failed to perform its key duties of enforcing laws at Arusha?
Are Ministers locked in political correctness and the fear of incurring the wrath of the EALA MPs and their allies in their home countries?
It should be noted that the millions of dollars that have already been swallowed by the greedy MPs could achieve many development projects that would relieve many poor citizens of the EAC Member States.