September 19, 2020

EALA Lawmakers Blocking Regional Budget Until They are Paid $2m “Zoom Allowances”

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The East African Legislative Assembly holds a virtual sitting on September 3, at which they approved a Vote on Account of USD 19,697,574.88 Million to support the normal operations and to cater for expenses of the EAC in the first quarter of the Financial Year 2020/2021. As the situation stands now, the lawmakers will be paid for this session

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly, the region’s Parliament are not giving up on their demand to be paid their “Sitting Allowances” accumulated since March.

Leaked internal deliberations at the Arusha, Tanzania body, show the MPs from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan each want $560 for each of the meetings they held between March and August 2020.

The problem however, is that all those meetings held during this time, were virtually conducted via Zoom App and Videoconferencing. The MPs conducted those meetings from either their homes or at offices of the EAC Ministry of their country.

Each member state has 9 nine lawmakers in EALA. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they were all asked to go back to their home countries in early March. But since then, they have held various general and committee level sessions.

Media reports from Tanzania say that Tanzanian and Ugandan senior officials have discussed allegations that the MPs are refusing to pass the regional budget until their allowances are paid.

Each EALA member is entitled to a Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) of $400 and a Sitting Allowance of $160 – meaning they each have to get $560, according to the Parliament’s rules. Also, each lawmaker gets over $6,000 (Rwf 5.8m) monthly salary.

Tanzania’s foreign affairs minister is reported to have blocked plans by EALA to borrow money from the General Reserve Account to pay the allowances of the MPs. EALA had wanted to borrow $1,665,339 to pay the allowances, a total of which $2m has been requested.

The Tanzania foreign ministry in letter dated September 10 says it has “not consented” to the idea of borrowing that money because Tanzania was “not consulted” when decision was taken.

As a result of failure to get their allowances, the Committee on General Purpose chaired by Denis Namara (Uganda) sat on September 14 and ruled to suspend consideration of the EAC budget estimates until they are paid their money. It is this decision that has provoked furry from different regions and on social media.

Speaker of EALA is Rwandan Martin Ngoga, and Rwandan’s representatives are: Pierre Celestin Rwigema, Kalinda Francois Xavier, Barimuyabo Jean Claude, Bahati Alex, Uwumukiza Francoise, Rutazana Francine, Ndangiza Fatuma, Gasinzigwa Oda.

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