The SADC Council of Ministers meeting held on March 10 and 11, 2014 in Lilongwe, Malawi approved the 2014/15 SADC Consolidated Business Plan and a Budget of US$88.335 million for its implementation. The budget will be funded from annual SADC Member States contributions of US$33. 675 million and International
Cooperating Partners (ICPs)contributions of US$54.204million representing 38%and 61% of the total requirements respectively, while 1% will be from the RISDP Contingency Fund, the sale of assets and interest from deposits.
The budget thus approved is for the implementation of the following key activities on SADC Business Plan during the 2014/15 fiscal year:
(i) Finalisation of the process of the Mid-term Review of RISDP; Members of the SADC Council of Ministers during their meeting of March 10 & 11, 2014 in Lilongwe Malawi Council Approves SADC Business Plan and Budget for 2014/15 Zambezi Bridge
ii) Consolidation of the SADC Free Trade Area attained in 2008;
(iii) Implementation of Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan;
(iv)Facilitating the development of trade-related infrastructure;
(v)Implementation of the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration and Action Plan on Agriculture and Food Security;
(vi) Peace building and consolidation of Democratic Practices and Good Governance in the Region;
(vii)Re-orientation of the thrust and implementation of the HIV and AIDS Cross Border Initiative;
(viii)Finalisation of ffinancing mechanisms (SADC Regional Development Fund and Project Preparation Development Facility (PPDF) to support regional integration;
(ix) Enhancement of SADC Secretariat capacity to support regional integration within the context of the revised RISDP;
(x) Facilitation of the implementation of SADC Gender commitments in line with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development;
(xi) Consolidation of the implementation of the Strategy Development, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Policy; and (xii) SADC Institutions’ running costs.
The meeting also took several decisions, amongst them, reaffirmation of the 60 year age limit for SADC staff and directing the Secretariat to align SADC processes of strategy development, in particular the review of the RISDP to the processes of the African Union Agenda 2063 as well as to coordinate Member States positions and strategies at both continental and global fora.
In reviewing the implementation of the 2013/2014 budget, Council noted with concern, that of the US$48.159 million budgeted ICP contributions, only US$12.713 million (26%) was utilised which is below the 50% threshold approved by Council at its meeting of March 2013 held in Maputo.
This low absorption was attributed to several factors including disbursement and capacity constraints at the Secretariat and Council directed the Secretariat to urgently address the constraints.
Council commended the ICPs for their support to SADC’s regional integration agenda. Council also commended the SADC Member States that had remitted their contributions to the Secretariat and urged those that had not to do so expeditiously.
Held at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), the Council meeting was chaired by Hon. Ephraim Mganda Chiume, MP, Malawian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Malawi and attended by ministers representing all SADC Member States.. SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax let the Secretariat team that serviced the meeting.
Officially opening the meeting, Hon. Chiume extended a special welcome back to Malagasy delegation that was participating in SADC activities for the first time since the 2009 suspension resulting from the unconstitutional government change in that country.
The Malagasy delegation was led by Hon. Mr Ulrich J. Andriantiana, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, who in turn expressed gratitude for the role SADC played in his country’s return to constitutional normalcy. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to honour its commitments to SADC and to further strengthen the implementation of its various programmes by integrating them as priorities in its Government programmes.
Dr. Tax who was attending the ordinary meeting of Council for the first time since ascending to the helm of Executive arm of SADC in August 2013 informed the meeting that she felt honoured and humbled for having been given the opportunity and privilege to contribute to the SADC regional integration agenda.
She pledged her commitment to work together with the SADC Member States and sought their support in pursuit of achieving the objectives of SADC.