The Assembly late yesterday debated and hailed the Chairperson of the EAC Summit of Heads of State for the concise exposition of the EAC policy contained in the State of the EAC Address delivered to EALA at the March Session.
At debate, Hon Shyrose Bhanji termed the speech as enlightening and said it had laid ground on a number of important matters in the integration agenda. The Speech cited the implementation of the Customs Union as key but added that a number of agencies should be able to issue the certificate of origin so that accessibility is realised.
Hon Abubakar Zein reiterated that it was necessary for the region to contain corruption and remove bad governance in order to realise progress of the EAC. Hon Mike Sebalu termed disasters as a matter that the region must collectively address.
Hon Shyrose Bhanji contributes to the debate in the House late yesterday
“There is no soveregnity when it comes to matters concerning disasters”, he said. Hon Mumbi Ngaru on her part termed sensitization as fundamental and said there was need for more adequate funding, a sentiment that was echoed by Hon Bernard Mulengani and Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro as well. On her part, Hon Judith Pareno said that East Africans continued to face a number of challenges at the borders citing frequent stops by the authorities while Hon Dora Byamukama called for closer working relations between the Private Sector under the East African Business Council and the Assembly.
The Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, Rt Hon. Majaliwa, Kassim Majaliwa delivered the State of EAC Address on behalf of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Chair of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, H.E. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, at the commencement of the 5th Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 8th, 2016.
The Speech, gave a score-card on a number of areas related to the pillars of integration.
Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro addresses the Assembly.
The Speech highlighted the adoption of the use of One Stop Business Posts (OSBPs) as a trade facilitation concept to minimize delays at the border posts and on the major corridors in the region. The House was informed that out of the 15 borders earmarked to operate as OSBPs, 7 had been completed and 4 others were operating as OSBPs using bilateral agreements.
The Prime Minister remarked that intra-EAC Trade was expected to register phenomenal increase in the next few years."Trade is now at 23%, over and above intra-African Trade figure of 12%. "There has been a 300% increase in the value of trade from 2 Billion USD in 2005 to 6 Billion USD in 2014," Rt. Hon Majaliwa told the House in March.
"These numbers coupled with the combined GDP of 110.3 Billion makes our region a formidable trading bloc", he added.The Chair of the EAC Heads of State Summit urged the region to push for total removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). "We all admit that we have done well in eliminating tariff related barriers, we must resolve to do away with the remaining ones," the Chairperson of the EAC Summit of Heads of State added, citing the examples of removal of various roadblocks in the region.
Hon Judith Pareno makes a point as she contributes to the debate on the State of EAC Address.
On Infrastructure, it was stated that Partner States were actively engaged in the Standard Gauge Railway with Republic of Kenya having completed coverage of about 200 km out of 472 km of formation as of September last year.
On the Common Market, the EAC Chair of Summit gave an account of achievements realized in the Partner States to date. He remarked that Republic of Burundi now recognizes the academic qualifications, experiences obtained, licenses and certifications obtained for the workers from other EAC Partner States.
The United Republic of Tanzania on its part, has issued a total of 3,222 simplified Certificates of Origin were issued as at June 2015 as compared to 2,355 certificates issued in 2014. In Kenya, the Prime Minister said development of an SMS based NTBs Reporting System to facilitate reporting and subsequent elimination of NTBs had been initiated.
Hon Christophe Bazivamo on the floor of the House.
The Republic of Rwanda, according to the Chair of the Summit, had eliminated all Non-Tariff Barriers and further harmonized demographic and social statistics for undertaking agricultural surveys and census. All the initiatives he added, were geared towards enhancing the Common Market Protocol. In Uganda, the value of goods from other Partner States accorded zero-tariff treatment grew by 9% while 360 EAC standards on traded goods had been adopted and were in application.
Yesterday, Hon Martin Ngoga remarked that while the policy statements made were positive, there was a mismatch with the bureaucrats in the Partner States paying less attention to implementation of the policy statements.
Hon Bernard Mulengani, Hon Christophe Bazivamo, Hon Patricia Hajabakiga, Hon Nancy Abisai and Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza also rose in support of the motion. Others were Hon Abdullah Mwinyi, Hon Chris Opoka, Hon Ussi Maryam, Hon Mukasa Mbidde and Hon Dr James Ndahiro.
The State of EAC Address is delivered annually to the EALA by the Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State. The State of EAC Address sets the momentum and impetus for the integration process by reflecting on general policies that relate to the Community's progress while outlining the strategic challenges which require attention.
The novelty of the State of EAC Address dates back to the year 2008 when H.E. President Yoweri Museveni made the first inaugural Address to EALA in Arusha.