Ethiopia: AU Summit opens amid renewed debate over budget financing options

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The 29th African Union Summit opened in Addis Ababa on Monday, with calls for the silencing of the guns of war and tackling the scourge of terrorism in Africa.

The Summit was addressed by the newly-elected African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, a former Chadian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

The Chairperson briefed the Summit on steps his Commission has taken since he took office and also called for actions to reduce tension across Africa and to fight terrorism.

The AU Chief also briefed the Summit on the transition of power from President Idriss Deby and President Alpha Conde and his own assumption of power from former AUC Chairperson Nkossazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Faki said his Commission managed to sign an agreement with the UN on coordination of actions to tackle peace and security initiatives.

Guinean President Alpha Conde told the Summit of the measures he implemented during the past six months.

In attendance at the AU Summit for the first time is The Gambian President Adama Barrow, who successfully took power after the intervention of the AU and the Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in January.

The Summit is expected approve a new budget for the AU Commission and to discuss an adopt a common African position on migration which would be discussed during the AU-EU Summit in Cote d’ Ivoire in November.

The African leaders approved a landmark decision in June 2016 to implement a 0.2% import levy to finance the organisation.

Currently, the AU Commission, the permanent Secretariat, receives just 67% of dues from the previous member states, numbering 54.

However, the current 29th Summit is expected to discuss and approve a new system of accessed contributions from each member state following the re-admission of Morocco as its 55th member.

At least 30% of the AU members do not pay their contributions at all, leading to the disruption of the AU’s activities.

The budget contributions are often distributed based on the economic strength of each country. This strength is based on the International Monetary Fund rankings.

There has been criticism the financing proposals approved in Rwanda during a Presidential retreat in Kigali, could be challenged by some states claiming they go against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Kwesi Quartey told reporters although the 0.2% levy maybe considered a trade barrier, its application would give the organisation access to stable source of funds.

“It would be very difficult for any member states to object to its implementation. If this levy gives the AU the financial muscle, it should be implemented,” Quartey said.

The AU wants the taxation based on eligible goods coming from non-member states when imported into the territory of AU members.

Each country is required to open a foreign account where the levy would be directed.

Kenya is one of the countries which have opened the foreign account to receive the AU import levy.

The import levy will apply to the cost of insurance and freight value at the port of origin and the customs value at the airport of departure.

The deputy Chairperson told PANA it was still too early for him to discuss the AU budget until after the Summit.

Meanwhile, the Summit will discuss Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s report on the AU Reforms, which is a new attempt to redefine the decision-making processes at the AU.

The AU Reforms also target a proposed merger of some Departments of the AU Commission to make it lean.

The key proposals were to merge the AU Political Affairs Department with the Peace and Security Department.

AU Commission officials have remained non-committal on the proposed merger of the two departments, each headed by a Commissioner.

The AU officials say both departments are crucial because the Peace and Security Department often comes in to intervene after contested Presidential elections.
-0- PANA AO/MA 3July2017

03 july 2017 10:10:11

xhtml CSS