Parliament has given approval for a budget of sh1.88 billion to support officials from the Ministry of East African Community Affairs in attending crucial regional meetings in the upcoming financial year. The decision came after a review by the parliamentary budget committee, prompted by the Ministry’s concerns over repeated failures to participate in significant regional gatherings due to financial constraints.
The committee, led by Kachumbala County MP Patrick Isiagi Opolot, emphasized the importance of Uganda’s active engagement in EAC integration processes, including regional meetings, bilateral engagements, Joint Permanent Commissions (JPCs), and trade negotiations. The lack of adequate funding, as highlighted by the Ministry, has been hindering Uganda’s effective participation and negotiation capacity in these forums.
These developments are detailed in the committee’s report on the National Budget Framework Paper for the financial years 2024/25 to 2028/29, which received parliamentary approval on January 31, 2024. Opolot recommended that the Ministry of Finance allocate sh1.88 billion to facilitate the participation of the Ministry of East African Community Affairs in these critical meetings.
Additionally, MPs sanctioned an extra sh444 million to support the Ministry in coordinating both regional and national efforts for drafting the EAC political confederation constitution. However, it was noted that only sh36 million of the required sh480 million has been allocated, resulting in a significant funding shortfall of sh444 million.
The adoption of the political confederation as a transitional model to the EAC political federation during the 17th Summit underscores the importance of these efforts. While a secretariat has been set up within the Ministry to oversee the agenda, the House was informed that planned activities for enhancing the drafting of the EAC political confederation constitution are facing funding challenges due to resource limitations.
According to information on the EAC website, the regional bloc has made substantial strides towards integration over the past 22 years. With eight member countries now including Somalia, which joined in November 2023, the journey towards integration has been guided by key protocols such as the Customs Union, the Common Market, and the Monetary Union.
The overarching aim remains the establishment of a Federal State capable of coordinating policies and addressing common challenges across political, security, social, and economic spheres for sustainable growth and development within the community.