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Tanzania’s earnings from agencies cause disquiet among EAC partners

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FRED OLUOCH

By FRED OLUOCH
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The East African Community needs to address the disproportionate gains that Tanzania gets from hosting most of the trading bloc’s agencies, particularly Dar es Salaam’s 73 per cent earnings from the $31.5 million annual average budget of the organs.

All EAC partner states contribute equally to the bloc’s budget through annual subscriptions.

A new report by the EAC secretariat has revealed that Tanzania earns $23 million from hosting five of the eight EAC organs, much more than Kenya, which earns $4 million, Uganda $3 million, Rwanda $1 million, and Burundi which receives $500,000.

The report, however, notes that Kenya gains the most from trade within the EAC, earning $38 million annually, followed by Uganda ($22 million) and Tanzania ($15 million).

Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan make net losses from trading with the region, according to the draft report titled Equitable Sharing of Benefits and Costs of EAC Integration Process.

“Given the current reality and lessons from the former EAC community, which collapsed mainly as a result of unequal share of benefits, there is a need to share the costs and benefits in a fair and equitable manner for sustainability of the EAC Community which generates far more benefits than the costs,” states the draft report.

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It further states that provisions in the EAC Treaty such as equal contribution to the EAC budget “may no longer be sustainable given the huge differences in population size and GDP of partner states”.

The draft report, which is yet to be approved and adopted, proposes a review of the formulae for equitable sharing of costs and benefits.

Tanzania’s benefits from the five organs that it hosts come from local employment, rent income and supplies. The five are the secretariat, the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Kiswahili Commission, and the Competition Authority.

Uganda hosts the East African Development Bank, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, the Inter University Council of East Africa, and the Safety Oversight Agency.

Kenya hosts the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Rwanda the East African Science and Technology Commission and Burundi hosts the EAC Health Research Commission.

The study was commissioned after the EAC Council of Ministers at its 18th meeting held in Arusha on September 4, 2009, observed that to actualise the fundamental and operational principles of the EAC required equitable distribution of benefits accruing to or to be derived from operation of the Community.

The EAC secretariat, in an interview on Friday, insisted that the draft report is yet to be finalised and could not therefore publicly discuss its findings.
“This [the earnings by Tanzania] is the percentage of gains from hosting EAC organs and institutions only. It does not include gains from trade where Kenya benefits most,” said Aime Uwase, the EAC principal planning and research officer in a response.

Further studies are ongoing to quantify other benefits from hosting and implementing various protocol provisions under the Customs Union and the Common Market, according to Wilberforce Mariki of the EAC secretariat.

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The EAC, initially made up of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, broke up in 1977 after the then-socialist Tanzania complained that capitalist Kenya was benefiting more than the other two partners.

Other issues that caused the collapse included Kenya’s demand for more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs, and disagreements with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who demanded that Tanzania as a member state of the EAC should not harbour forces fighting to topple his government.

The disparate economic systems of socialism in Tanzania and capitalism in Kenya also contributed to the fall.

Kenya had a more developed manufacturing sector than Tanzania and Uganda, resulting in large income transfers from Dar es Salaam and Kampala.

The report observes that regional integration, by its very nature, creates imbalances in gains if partner states do not take effective measures to maximise the prospective and potential benefits and minimise costs.

The overall objective of the study was to assess whether there is equitable sharing of costs and benefits of the EAC integration so far, and provide a remedial mechanism where possible.

The study suggested that EAC institutions and organs allocate jobs equitably and sustainably as per the Treaty provisions as integration deepens.

The study also suggested that job distribution should be proportional to partner states’ contribution to the EAC budget.

High profile and technical jobs should be competitively awarded, and others should be rotational and allocated on a quota basis.

The study suggests a review of the current system of equal contribution to the EAC budget by partner states, given that they are structurally different in terms of GDP, imports, exports to the region and population.

It suggests that partner states can contribute based on their capacity to pay as represented by GDP. This mode of financing has been successfully used by the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and the Organization of American States.

Partner states with bigger economies and population are seen to benefit more, or the impact of integration could be higher in bigger economies than smaller ones. But sharing costs based on GDP remains a parameter that relatively satisfies the principle of solidarity, equity, balance and mutual benefit.

The partner states’ contribution to the 2018/19 total budget was $56,245,162 (56 per cent of the total budget) through the respective ministries of EAC Affairs ($50,227,920), the ministries responsible for education ($4,466,210) and ministries responsible for fisheries ($1,551,032).

Development partners will contribute $42,925,613 to the budget, and member universities will give $333,970. The miscellaneous revenue is pegged at $265,971.

The percentage contribution to the budget by EAC partner states has been increasing over time. It increased from 10 per cent in 2011/12 to 56 per cent in 2018/19.

The analysis of contribution per capita shows a big gap, from $0.94 (Burundi) to $0.19 (Tanzania).
As a result of reforms, trade within the EAC has increased. Intra-EAC trade was $1.7 billion in 2005, rising to $3.5 billion in 2013 and falling to $2.4 billion in 2017.

The report says the shrinking of trade among partner states since 2015 may be as a result of national production patterns becoming more similar, and movement of capital investments where products are manufactured locally.

The EAC intra-trade share is below 20 per cent, compared with the EU where it is 61.7 per cent. Among the members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the share is 50.3 per cent and 24.3 per cent within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The elimination of tariffs on intra-EAC trade led to an average annual loss of Customs duty of $1,689.07 million between 2013 and 2017.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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