AU REACHES MAJOR DECISION ON FUNDING

Beginning next year, African Union (AU) member countries will impose a 0.2 per cent import levy on selected products to mobilize resources to fund the organization's programmes, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says.

He revealed here Sunday that the decision -- which he described as momentous -- was reached at by a meeting of African Heads of State and Government, Finance Ministers and

Foreign Affairs ministers here at the mid-term AU Summit. This is in light of the fact that about 70 per cent of the AU's budget comes from donors.

Briefing Zimbabwean media here, Chinamasa said continued reliance on donor funding would hinder the success of African programmes. Currently, he added, some member states were failing to pay their subscriptions, resulting in challenges, including delayed salary payments

for AU staff.

Currently member state pay subscriptions which vary according to the size of each country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). "A 0.2 per cent import levy on eligible imports will be charged and that money will go into an escrow account and go directly to the African Union," he said.

"Also for peace missions, each of the five regional groupings (in Africa) will be required to pay 65 million US dollars annually towards peace operations, peace missions, preventive diplomacy and so on so that we have ownership in the decisions that we take."

Chinamasa said technical issues regarding the operationalization of the funding mechanism including the intervals at which the money would be remitted to the AU would be looked at in the coming months.

He said it was also agreed to increase oversight on the AU budget. "This will take effect from the 2017 AU budget and it will also mean that the revenue collection will now be predictable, timely and that the African Union will now be able to plan for the future on the basis of available resources," he added.

"It is a decision which is moving the African Union away from dependency to one of self-sustenance."

Last year, the AU Commission set up the AU Foundation to help the continental body raise funds as it makes strides to wean itself from donor dependency. At the launch of the AU foundation it was decided that the continental body would cover 100 perc ent of its operating costs, 75 per cent of its rogramme costs and 25 per cent of its peace and security costs.

The AU is hoping to raise a total of 600 million USD a year to fund itself. Last year, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe pledged 300 head of cattle to the foundation to help raise funds for the AU.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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