East African Community partner states have been challenged to benchmark themselves with the world’s most advanced economies if they are to grow.
This was said by former EAC Secretary General, Mr Amanya Mushega, who said EAC needs to revisit and do away with the standard way of judging itself by sub-Saharan African standards.
“India, Singapore and South Africa refused to treat themselves that way. They aimed high, looked at the way the USA, Japan, Germany, UK and the USSR developed their human resources, copied them with the view to competing with them,” Mr Mushega said.
Mr Mushega was giving a keynote address during the opening of the two-day EAC-EU-IMF conference on regional integration on Monday in Arusha, Tanzania. The theme of the conference was ‘Regional Integration in the EAC: Making the most of the Common Market on the Road to a Monetary Union.’
Mr Mushega called for heavy investment in human resource development, and urged the Community to compare the number and quality of local skills with advanced economies.
“For EAC to develop, exploit its resources, build industries, not cutting and wrapping imported products for it to build and maintain roads, railways, airports and dams, compete in local and world markets, it must put maximum efforts on the quality of education and skills of its population,” he said.
Speaking at the forum, the director of the IMF’s African Department Mr Abebe Aemro Selassie, said the challenge for the EAC, as for other fast growing countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa, was how to sustain growth over the medium term, and how to ensure that scaled-up public investment and borrowing translates into durable growth.
In her remarks, Ms Jesca Eriyo, the EAC Deputy Secretary General, said the Community had made major progress in trade and finance.
The way forward
How. For EAC to develop, exploit its resources and build industries, it must put maximum efforts on the quality of education and skills of its population.
KAMPALA. Police have asked government to grant a tax exemption to Chinese investors who want to take over city land on which Fire Prevention and Rescue Services (FPRS) headquarters and part of former Police Training School at Kibuli sit. The Chinese would in exchange build apolice academy and 200 housing units.
According to a police source, the Chinese investors under Fangda International Company Ltd, are demanding tax exemption on all materials they will import for building their commercial projects and police structures as a precondition for partnering with the Force.
The police have accepted the precondition on tax exemption but are yet to convince the Finance ministry to sanction the deal. The Finance ministry is considering whether the tax waiver is workable.
The investors also plan to build commercial structures they will use for at least 30 years on the city land.
According to the deal, the Chinese investors will construct structures for FPRS headquarters at Kibuli in Kampala while their commercial structures will be sited at the current FPRS at the Clock Tower on Entebbe Road, Kampala.
The investors will also use part of the Kibuli land for commercial purposes.
Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi declined to comment on whether the government has given the project a go-ahead, saying he had not yet been briefed by the manager.
Similarly, Mr Jim Mugunga, the Finance ministry spokesman, also declined to comment on the deal saying he couldn’t divulge such details that are still under discussion.
Mr Mugunga is also the project manager of the police accommodation plan to be managed on a public-private partnership (PPP).
Currently, the police have a huge housing unit deficit and have no money to fund their accommodation projects. According to police records, 36,013 officers are entitled to accommodation but police can accommodate only 20.9 per cent of them.
In the 2016/2017 Financial Year police budget, only Shs20b has been allocated for housing.
In 2011, police advertised tenders for the redevelopment of its land in Nsambya, Naguru-Ntinda, Jinja Road, Entebbe, Kabalye, Kira, Wandegeya, Mabuwa and Acacia but most investors demanded for cover in the law to safeguard their investments. Parliament then passed the PPP law, but investors have been lukewarm in embracing the arrangement.
Mandate. In order to attract investments and boost production in the country, the Uganda government grants several tax exemptions on Value Added Tax (VAT), Withholding Tax and Income Tax, among others. The exemption has to be debated in Parliament before it is assented to.
80 workers poisoned at the Royal Van Zanten Flower Farm in Uganda. The Royal Van Zanten is an international company based in the Netherlands dealing in nursery plants and flowers. It has production sites in Uganda. According to the report in the Daily Monitor of 25th October 2016, 80 workers at the Royal Van Zanten flower farm in Wakiso district were poisoned as a result of exposure to poisonous chemicals (Metam sodium). Exposure to this pesticide causes allergic dermatitis and respiratory allergy; and in the long term cancer and mental illness. In addition to the low pay, the workers do not have protective gear. Uganda Horticultural Industrial Services Provider and Allied Workers Union (UHISPAWU) and the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA) have protested against this mistreatment of the farm workers most of whom are women.
There is an urgent need to address the legal framework within which investors operate in Uganda. The legal framework is provided under the Uganda Investment Code 2000 which is under review and specifically with regard to investments from the Netherlands under the Uganda – Netherlands Bilateral Investment Treaty, signed on 30 May 2000 and came into effect 1st January 2003.
Unfortunately both the investment Code and the Uganda –Netherlands BIT do not address issues of workers’ rights. It is imperative that investors observe minimum human rights, environmental and labour standards.
Fortunately, the Uganda –Netherlands BIT is coming to end in 2018 as it was to last for 15 years. This is an opportunity for Uganda to renegotiate the terms of this Treaty, mobilize stakeholder views and come up with a Treaty which will promote sustainable human development and protects the environment in both Uganda and the Netherlands. The review of the Investment code should ensure that human rights and the environment are protected.
The Royal Van Zanten phenomenon should not be allowed to happen again.
By JANE S. NALUNGA (Country Director SEATINI-Uganda) 1-11-2016