AU faces funding challenge

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) faces the critical challenge of funding its projects and programmes, unless member states agree alternative sources of funding for the continental body at this week's ordinary summit here.

For nearly two years, the AU Commission has been exploring, in addition to annual assessed contributions from member states, innovative means of raising finances for activities of its organs.

The issue was raised here Monday at the start of a two-day session of the AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), which is scheduled to examine the Commission's draft budget for 2011/12.

According to sources close to the AU secretariat, finance ministers of the member states have been studying suggested ways of sourcing extra funds for the organisation, but convergence of ideas remains problematic.

It was proposed earlier on that governments of member states raise money from taxation of lucrative sectors of their economies, including oil exports, air tickets, receipts from tourism and insurance premiums, in order to prop up implementation of the Union's strategic programmes.

Work on this proposal is expected to be concluded at the 16th assembly of the Union here early next week.

A 2011/12 budget of around US$258 million for the AU Commission will be considered by permanent representatives and the AU Executive Council during preparatory meetings of the summit this week.

The Commission has to rely more on internal sources of funding in view of increasing reluctance of its external partners to release more funds without proper accounting system in the Commission.

Commission Chairperson Jean Ping said at the opening of the PRC session that while particular attention must be paid to funds provided by partners, the Commission must improve its capacity to manage finances put at its disposal.

"We are far from achieving perfection, but we are determined to improve our work," Ping assured.

Holding under the theme: "Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values",  the 16th AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government is also expected to discuss the current crises in Cote d'Ivoire and Tunisia.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 24Jan2011

24 janvier 2011 11:04:50

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