The Members of the East African Legislative Assembly are demanding that they be paid their allowances or else they may refuse to pass the secretariat’s budget.
The lawmakers from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan say they have not been paid allowances for the sessions they had for the whole of year. Each member state has nine members in EALA with Rwandan Martin Ngoga as Speaker.
Early last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, the MPs continued doing their work virtually from their home countries. They want sitting allowances for these sessions.
The issue of the allowances has been around for months. However, it came to prominence this Monday as the Secretariat unveiled its 2021-2022 budget at the EALA session in Arusha, Tanzania.
The budget totaling more than $91m was presented by the EAC Chief Administrative Secretary Ken Obura, is less by more than $5m compared to last year’s budget.
Obura explained to the House that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted member states, and donor funding has also reduced – which means some activities may have to be eliminated or put on hold.
The elephant in the room however is the allowances of the lawmakers. According to sources, each EALA member is owed a total of up to $50,000 (Rwf 49.7m) for the whole year in arrears of allowances.
Privately, the lawmakers say until a solution worked over their allowances, they will reluctantly attend sessions reviewing the budget.