Lean times for East Africa Secretariat

The Arusha based EAC offices may be bracing for a tougher time after heads of state agreed to cut spending.

The 19th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State in Kampala concluded with a decision to cut jobs and restructure the secretariat for it to be leaner to survive the current limited resources.

East African and Northern Corridor Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the Arusha based secretariat will face a reduction of its budget to have a leaner, responsive and effective structure informed by the realities and means of member states.

Recruitment has been on hold for the past eight years pending completion of the review aimed at transforming the Community into an organization to effectively and efficiently discharge the expanded mandate of integration.

A source at the Secretariat told the regional paper, the East African, that more than 30 positions have not been filled in years. The Secretariat has reportedly been using interns and volunteers to perform the duties.

While the heads of state have been talking integration, their scorecards leave a lot to be desired from regional squabbles between Kenya and Tanzania, a cash-strapped secretariat which is running behind schedule and national interests overrunning the EAC treaty.

For instance, the region is pulling apart when it comes to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) where Rwanda and Kenya have agreed to the deal with the Eurozone but Uganda and Tanzania have pulled out.

The agreement which has been under negotiation for over a decade was concluded in 2014 but EAC countries have differed on exposing the less developed nations to a flurry of EU imports that may crush their nascent manufacturing prospects.

In reality, though, Kenya is the only middle-income country in the region which may be affected by restrictions to Europe since the rest enjoy limitless access to the Eurozone with or without the treaty.

“The summit president visited the EU and engaged with them and raised the issues and a response was given. Some of the issues still lacked satisfactory answers and the summit agreed that he should go back for a second visit,” Mr. Munya said.

East African heads of state also been unable to harmonise the age limit for importing vehicles to 8 years.

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