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Tanzania pulls out of East Africa common visa planTanzania has dealt Kenya another blow by distancing itself from the common visa launched between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The common visa is meant to, among other things, enable the members states to jointly market their tourism as a single product.

Tanzania also wants nothing to do with the joint marketing strategies pushed by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda and will not participate in the East African tourism platform events being pushed for by the neighbours.

The joint visa has been issued to 4,000 tourists who will be visiting the three countries, now dubbed ‘the coalition of the willing’. In a media briefing Wednesday, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said Tanzania was wary of competition from Kenya.

“Tourists who will be moving between the three countries that form the coalition will now be using a common visa that will be charged at $100 (Sh10,122) instead of $150 (Sh15,183) that each country charged before,” Mr Balala said.

Harmonized standards can sharpen EAC competitive edgeStandards are a vital element in trade, because they help business interaction and access to markets in the economy. 

Standards and compliance can also encourage trade by providing valuable information about product requirements or consumer preferences which all add to competitiveness. 

A standards regime helps open-up markets. It allows customers to compare offers from different suppliers, making it easier for smaller and younger enterprises to compete with larger and stronger companies. 

They also give small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) a competitive advantage by enabling them to compete on a level playing field with bigger enterprises internationally and to increase market share.

With a total population of about 146 million people, the East African Community (EAC) offers fertile ground for companies to do business.  By doing so, this leads to economic growth generated by higher levels of intra-East African trade. The EAC has developed East African Standards to harmonize requirements governing quality of products and services across the Community. 

SEATINI- Uganda rolls out CRAFT phase two Just as Capacity for Research and Advocacy for Fair Taxation phase one that was funded by EU through DGAP ended with voluminous testimonies of how successful this campaign was , this was not exactly to put an end to the CRAFT project, but rather to rebirth CRAFT phase two project with yet a new resolve with funding from Directorate General for International Cooperation of Netherlands (DGIS). The eighteen months long project that saw the different stakeholders strongly advance fair taxation, accountability and governance issues, ranked one of the best and most successful projects by partners was officially concluded on 10th January and the new phase that will start the same year was rolled out. This second phase that will majorly be concentrated at the grass roots, Kitgum district is one of the major districts of implementations and the focus in the second phase of CRAFT implementation will be on three major issues and these will be: • Civic education, This area will handle translating tax materials into local languages, reprinting and repackaging of the training modules. • Policy advocacy; This will link up policy makers to the citizens at the grass roots. • Alliances; Having alliances at the local government levels and bringing them to the national levels where they can present their issues that will then feed into the regional harmonization of tax laws. On Monday 11th November 2013, SEATINI Uganda together with Tax Payers Protection Alliance, an NGO in United States of America organized a half day tax justice task force dialogue at Shangai. The main objective of this dialogue was draw synergies with and share experience with the president, Mr. David Williams of the aforesaid organization on the tax policy issues in United States of America and in Uganda.The meeting brought together 12 participants of which 8 were male and 4 female representing officials from the government, Private sector and Civil Society Organizations. A presentation was made on the Salient tax policy issues in United States of America by Mr. David Williams, president Tax Payers Alliance, United States of America, Ms. Jane Nalunga, and Country Director of SEATINI-Uganda made remarks on Uganda’s tax policies. As a way forward, participants recommended the need to frequently use the media since it plays an important role in sending out messages of reputable importance to raise awareness among citizens. They also called the government and the departments in charge to revise the education curricular so that the youth who are the future generation are sensitized on tax issues so that they have a stake in these issues. Civil Society Organizations were implored to carryout joint activities like research since the government takes actions when bodies/institutions use a collective voice. On 8th February of 2013, SEATINI Uganda organized a half day civic education meeting on tax justice for the tax justice campaigners at Hotel Africana, Kampala. The main objective of this meeting was: To enhance the tax justice campaign in Uganda, inform the public, strengthen advocacy to facilitate change in tax policy and practice to increase transparency, raise awareness on the importance of paying taxes, and the relationship between citizens, good governance and democracy, and empower the people in the local communities with knowledge and skills on how to demand for accountability from duty bearers. The meeting drew stake holders who double as SEATINI –Us campaigners and will take the tax accountability agenda in to the public domain. SEATINI-Uganda organized a radio talk show on governance and democracy on 12th of February 2013 on KFM radio. The aim of the talk show was to enhance the campaign on Tax justice launched in 2012 and the main issues addressed during this talk show were: The role of a tax payer in building the nation and why a tax payer should demand for accountability from the duty bearer. This drew listeners from within Kampala and from the country side like Fort portal, Jinja among other districts who participated in the show by sending text messages to either commend the campaign or express their views on the role of a tax payer in building the nation. This was followed by another radio talk show on Radio West in Mbarara organized by one of the Tax Justice campaigners On 13th of February 2013, SEATINI convened a validation meeting to discuss the policy brief on tax incentives and tax reform policy brief in Uganda; this was held at Shangai hotel. Members at the meeting recommended that the government should design a transparent process and procedure for granting the tax incentives. Members also made amendments on the policy brief in order to fine tune it so as to achieve the intended target of having accountability and transparency in the tax system, but not advocating for a tax reduction. The policy was fine tuned and the members comments were taken care of.