The Citizen (Tanzania)
Content provided by Asianet-Pakistan
Arusha. The US yesterday injected $194 million (Sh407 billion) grant into the East African Community (EAC), bringing a ray of hope for continued support to development partners.

The money will be spent on the implementation of development projects and programmes for five years in a framework of a regional development objectives grant agreement.

At least $30 million of the grant will fund institutional strengthening of the EAC Secretariat, the executive arm of the EAC.

The Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Tanzania and US representative to the EAC, who signed the agreement on behalf of her government, Ms Virginia Blaser, said the grant also aimed at unlocking the potential of the region for development of its people.

Other signatories to the agreement include USAid mission director for Kenya and East Africa Karen Freeman and EAC secretary-general Liberat Mfumukeko, who said the funds would not only deepen integration, but also improve cross border risk management and strengthen regional institutions.

“The grant will also support harmonisation of policies and standards and scale up technologies and best practices in trade, investment, agriculture, energy and environmental and natural resource management,” he said.

Other projects and programmes, which will be supported by the EAC/US regional development objectives grant agreement are climate change, gender, livelihood, population and health threats.

Ms Freeman said the agreement was also geared towards an increase in trade and investment between the US and the EA bloc, improve natural resources management in the Lake Victoria Basin and Mara River ecosystems, improve access to integrated health services in border areas, among others.

She said the grant was an extension of support to the EAC by the US, which dates back to the 1990s which, according to her, had facilitated faster, more affordable and predictable trade. “We have increase investment by facilitating the closure of more international deals, which are expanding local industries and manufacturing,” she explained.

The EAC has been subjected to liquidity challenges in recent years due to declining financial support from donors, delayed remittance of mandatory budget contributions from the partner states and freezing of aid by some development partners over the Burundi crisis.

Recently, though, the regional organisation instituted tough budget control measures, which, according to the SG, has seen resulting in savings amounting to $588,768 during the first three months of implementation of the exercise, targeting mainly travel expenses.

Reforms will target savings to a tune of $6 million during the 2016/17 financial year.

“Implementation of the reforms are already showing positive results in that for the first three months of implementation (May to August), the first estimates point to savings of $588,768 in travel expenses,” he said during a media briefing in Arusha recently.

The entire budget for the EAC, its organs and institutions for the current financial year is $101.3 million, which is slightly less than $110.6 million, which was approved for expenditure during 2015/16.