More than 25 per cent of EAC meetings shall use video conferencing facilities. The community is working towards improvement of video-conference facilities both at Secretariat and partner states level, to accommodate as many meetings as possible, at the same time. This is an effort to substantially cut down costs and improve financial effeciency.
Mr Libérat Mfumukeko, the EAC Secretary General, noted that the EAC organs and institutions had been experiencing liquidity challenges as a result of delays in disbursement of contributions by both the partner states and development partners.
But should the need to travel arise: “As meetings are well planned on the EAC calendar of activities, meeting forms indicating the budget line to be charged shall be issued one month in advance and tickets two weeks prior to the date of the meeting. This will help to avoid the high costs that may arise from late bookings. All air tickets shall be booked and issued basing on the most direct route,” said Mr Mfumukeko.
The Secretary General said the measures and reforms are a product of intense consultations he had with executive staff, heads of institutions, directors, professionals and general staff of the Community over the past few weeks.
The duration of the meetings shall be rationalised. Technical meetings shall be conducted for a period not exceeding four working days. The number of delegates from partner states facilitated through the EAC budget shall not exceed two for each meeting.
Partner states have been told that delegates should be nominated from relevant sectors who can actively contribute to the success of the meetings and that they consult widely with relevant stakeholders in partner states prior to coming to the meetings.
In order to reduce conference costs, where possible, the use of free of charge government-owned facilities should be encouraged. The procurement unit shall also negotiate for corporate conference and accommodation rates in each partner state and the EAC delegations to technical meetings shall not be more than three members of staff.
For meetings involving partner states’ delegates and staff held out of station, but within a radius of less than 150 km of two hour’s drive from the duty station, the travel days for the staff shall be the actual first and last days of the meeting.
Meetings involving staff members only or with consultants shall be held at EAC premises using conference halls or meeting rooms within the duty station.
Where an assignment, activity, training and retreat require more concentration, justification shall be provided to support taking the staff members outside the duty station. This decision shall be taken by the Secretary General or the officers with sub-delegated authority of the accounting officer.
Members of staff will only be allowed to be away from their respective duty stations for not more than 50 per cent of their time. Exceptions shall be considered on individual basis provided that the cumulative number of days for a particular month does not exceed 65 per cent of the time.
Travel clearance by the respective director and DSG or equivalent authorities in other organs and institutions, prior to travelling, is mandatory. Prior to budgeting procurement of consultancies, which are not implementing a particular council directive; a request shall be submitted to management and considered by a multi-disciplinary advisory committee.
This is to save expenditure on short-term studies, trainings, which can be undertaken or facilitated by the EAC professional staff. The Partnership Fund MoU between EAC and Development Partners shall be amended to reflect the application of travel policy as contained in the PRAG (EU Per diem rates), with effect from July 1, this year.
During the negotiation of financing agreements with development partners, EAC shall be flexible to apply development partners’ travel policies with a view to attracting more support.
Thus there will be No Top Up claim by a staff when implementing an activity funded by development partners under these terms. A projects coordination unit will be established by July 1, this year, to enhance effective communication and reporting to partner states, EALA and development partners, ensuring that EAC has a one stop desk and repository for information on all projects.
The unit will ensure joint planning and budgeting, timely and coordinated implementation, reporting and auditing of projects.