By PHILIP WAFULA, Daily Monitor/NECJOGHA
Kampala, Uganda – With the exception of Uganda, no other East African Community (EAC) member state has remitted money to Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) budget this financial year.
LVFO is a regional organisation under the EAC that is responsible for coordinating and managing fisheries and aquaculture resources of the region.
Its programmes and activities are funded by partner states, donors and the Secretariat.
Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi were each required to remit $515,211 (about Shs1.8b) within the first quarter of the current financial year – through their respective ministries of the EAC Affairs.
However, the Director Finance and Administration at LVFO, Ms Susan Serwadda Musoke, in an interview, said: “Uganda is the only country that has made a contribution while other partner states are in arrears.”
This, she said, has kept the organisation in a financial constraint.
“We keep borrowing from reserves and other operational accounts which impede on our operations,” she said.
As of last Thursday, according to a status report, Uganda has this financial year so far contributed $316,504 (Shs1.1b), representative of 61.43 per cent, and is left with a total outstanding balance of $198,707 (about Shs725m).
The report shows Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania are yet to post a single dollar, with Tanzania having arrears of $1,062,152 (Shs3.8b) from 2018/2019 financial year ‘and earlier’, bringing its total outstanding balance to $1,577,363 (about Shs5.7b).
Ms Serwadda said Burundi, which assented to the convention in 2017, did not pay in 2018 but she is certain all partner states will pay up although she does not know when.
“I have engaged all of them; I actually engaged Kenya about a month ago and they promised to clear ‘soon’. The good thing about Kenya is that when they eventually pay, they will clear all,” she said.
Dr Margaret Mwakima, the Principal Secretary of State Department for EAC, Kenya, and Dr Faraji Kasidi Mnyepe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Tanzania, did not respond to our mails by press time.
Ambassador Jean Rigi, the Permanent Secretary in Ministry to the Office of the President Responsible for EAC Affairs, Burundi, last Wednesday said their outstanding balance will be cleared by November 15.
Mr Rigi said LVFO member states will endeavour to implement Regulation 23 (5) of the EAC Financial Rules and Regulations.
“These provide that: ‘The contributions by partner states shall be due on July 1 of each financial year and shall be paid within the first six months of the financial year’.”
In a telephone interview on Thursday, the Ugandan State Minister for East African Affairs, Mr Julius Maganda, said each partner state should have made more than 50 per cent remittances before December.
CHANGE OF NAME
The organisation was formed through a convention signed in 1994 by the three EAC partner states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and has since been revised to accommodate Burundi.
However, following the admission of Burundi and the expansion of the organisation’s mandate, a new convention seeks to change the name from LVFO to East African Fisheries Organisation.
The convention seeks a transition in operational scope from the three L. Victoria riparian states to all EAC partner states.
Gold mine in Lake Victoria
Employment. Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and the largest lake in the African Great Lakes Region. The lake supports the largest fresh water fishery in the world, producing One million tonnes of fish per year and employing 200,000 people in supporting the livelihoods of 4 million people. Some of its challenges are deforestation.
Other treasures. The MPs further heard that the EAC was endowed with a goldmine called fish swim bladder
Also known as the gas bladder, fish maw, or air bladder is an internal gas-filled organ in the dorsal portion of the Nile Perch.
According to Dr Kayanda, the swim bladder is used to make stitches that are used on patients and are a refining agent in the manufacture of beers and wines.
“Chinese use them in soups and is a delicacy among their community and are mainly exported to Asia markets (Hong Kong) for between $250 (Shs912,000) and $500 (Shs1.8m) per kilogramme,” he said.