Today, the Parliamentary Committee on EAC affairs supported by TradeMark East Africa commenced a two day awareness workshop to focus on regional integration issues that call for key decision making and commitment on behalf of both Uganda and the EAC region.
The workshop at the Serena Lake Victoria Hotel, Entebbe was officially opened by the Minister of EAC affairs, Honorable Shem Bageine, who gave a brief overview of the Ministry’s commitment. “The EAC embraced the Common Market principles and its objectives in 2010 and it is planned that by 2015 the four freedoms involving the free movement of persons, goods, capital and services including the right to establishment and residence will be implemented in accordance with the commitments contained in the common Market Protocol. In consultations with other stakeholders, the Ministry has developed the Common Market Implementation of the protocol”
The workshop is part of ongoing work by the Committee on EAC Affairs to provide oversight and raise awareness of EAC matters. The EAC committee is cognizant of the challenges at hand which include low public awareness, delayed implementation of EAC decisions and directives, inadequate monitoring of compliance by EAC Partner States, slow domestication and harmonisation of laws.
Following discussions between TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and the Parliamentary Committee EAC, areas for support were identified including:
- Raising awareness and understanding of EAC issues and processes among parliamentarians and border communities
- Enhancing monitoring of compliance at national level and by other partner states
- Ensuring EAC is mainstreamed in national policies, plans and budgets.
“A while ago we supported the parliamentary Committee EAC to carry out a number of studies, and realized the protocols are good but unless Uganda comes up with complimentary measures, we may not benefit much from these protocols, and we know many of the complimentary measures come from parliament. A case in point, is the big informal private sector which can’t be established in the region because they don’t meet the basic requirements, they are not registered. Despite the millions of dollars in possession of the traders downtown Kikuubo , they can’t trade beyond Uganda. There is need for parliament to support them with laws & policies that support SME s in Uganda.” said Allen Asiimwe, TMEA Country Director.
Honourable Sarah Mwebaze, Chairperson Parliamentary Committee EAC thanked members for turning up in big number and emphasized the need for increased awareness of EAC affairs. “There issues regarding the EAC in almost all departments of government, and for this reason, through the support of our partners TMEA, we decided to engage Chairpersons and vice chairpersons of Sectoral committees, Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry and the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in order to ensure that pertinent issues are brought on board and given due consideration by other committees. At the end of this session, we shall all be informed and be able to explain salient issues at the grass root. We realize the need to increase the level of awareness and sensitization of EAC affairs in the public domain”
Areas for discussions include: status of EAC (CMP and MU); EAC Regional Integration indicators for key sectors (based on Uganda’s commitments and budget call circular 2013/2014); Update on the Customs Union and key issues; Update on the Single Customs Territory & Trade Facilitation Initiatives; EALA laws for domestication; harmonization of laws; elimination of NTBs and status (Regional and National initiatives); Citizens Awareness on Regional Integration; and opportunities for youth in the EAC.
The expected result from the 2 day workshop will be that the chairpersons will be able to engage their members on EAC issues and also prioritize EAC issues in their committee deliberations.