Regional ministers have proposed cutting the number of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members elected in each partner state from nine to five, as a budget crisis bites the bloc.
The proposal comes after the 12th meeting of the Sector Council of Finance and Economic / Trade Ministers which started on Monday.
A report presented to the Council shows that EALA has the highest number of sittings of all the counterpart regional parliamentary assemblies, making it the most expensive to manage.
EALA spends the largest share of Partner State contributions at 35.35 percent, followed closely by the Secretariat at 35.16 percent and the East African Court of Justice at 7.06 percent .
The report also recommended that the number of EALA sessions be reduced to four per fiscal year, like its benchmark peers, in order to reduce costs.
“This proposal is misplaced because the composition of the assembly is a matter of treaty,” said Rose Akol, EALA member in Uganda.
EALA lawmakers criticized the report, arguing that parliament has been a model for other regional blocs.
“The success is due to the fact that the EAC (East African Community) has a body that makes checks and balances. It also has well established organs and institutions. So for us this proposal is misguided, ”said Aden Abdikadir, EALA member in Kenya.
“As it stands, this assembly is a model on the continent. Members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were here on a fact-finding mission.
Each EAC state is represented in the regional parliament by nine members, who serve no more than two terms of five years each.
“EALA members receive a monthly salary plus a seat allowance. Instead, if they are seconded from National Assemblies of Partner States, they will only earn a sitting allowance for the period they are required, as is the case in other RECs such as SADC and the United States. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ”, which is part of the proposal said.
The report also states that EALA’s modus operandi mirrors that of sovereign states, with the power to establish its own rules of procedure and create committees.
In terms of composition, EALA has the highest number of members per country compared to the AU Pan-African Parliament, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the ECOWAS Parliament, the Central African Parliamentarians Network and the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union.
“One of the reasons they jump on the powers and strength of the assembly is our role in terms of oversight in the community. So we see this as a response because community funds have been misappropriated, ”said Paul Musamali, EALA member in Uganda.