The year 2014 has continued to register vital achievements for the East African Community integration agenda. It is a year in which we have witnessed more landmarks in the integration process than some people had probably envisaged. Most of these developments formed the agenda and resolutions of the 12th extraordinary heads of state summit on April 30, 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania.
During the summit, the heads of state agreed on key milestones in the integration process, among which was embarking on the processes for political federation – the fourth and remaining pillar of the EAC integration.
They have already gone past protocols on: Customs Union (signed in 2005), Common Market (signed in 2010) and the Monetary Union signed in (November 2013). The first two protocols are already under implementation while the third is under the process of ratification by the partner states.
The community has been undertaking consultations in all partner states on the model and structure of political federation. Accordingly, the heads of state received a report from the council of ministers on this process.
The summit directed the council to initiate a process of drafting a constitution for political federation and to develop a road map on what the constitution-making process would involve.
The journey towards a political federation is, therefore, no longer speculation. It has started with the full support from five heads of state of the partner states. Held under the theme, One People, One Destiny: Building Sustainable Structures for Deeper Integration, the summit also considered the progress report on sustainable financing of the community.
The EAC has been deliberating on sustainable mechanisms of financing to ensure timely remitting of funds to the secretariat by the partner states and to reduce donor-dependency. Late remittances of contributions and reliance on donors affect service delivery by EAC organs and institutions in their respective mandates. This hampers the effective achievement of set targets.
It should also be noted that as the integration process continues to gather momentum, it will generate a lot of responsibilities and tasks for the EAC organs and institutions.
The positive developments we are witnessing have inevitably come with financial implications that will overwhelm the existing budget, which is approximately $131m for the financial year ending June 2014.
For instance, under the implementation of the EAC monetary union protocol, and as we steadily move towards the EAC single currency, the community will have to establish and facilitate such institutions as the Monetary Institute, the Statistics Bureau and ultimately the EAC Central Bank.
To address this challenge, different options are being considered. One of them would be to levy a percentage on the value of imports entering from outside the community. The heads of state have asked the council of ministers to study all feasible options and submit a report to the summit in November this year.
The summit also received a report on the institutional review of the EAC secretariat. The community has been considering the transformation of its executive organ from the existing secretariat into a strong regional institute equivalent to a commission, to give it sufficient authority required for driving the ongoing integration process.
As the EAC progresses into deeper integration levels of the customs union, common market and monetary union protocols, there is need for a supportive institutional framework, which can effectively drive and manage the extended mandate. The partner states are consulting further and the council of ministers will submit a report at the heads of state summit in November this year.
Source: The Observer
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