SEATINI Co-Organizes the Induction and Re-Orientation of MPs on the EAC Regional Integration Process:
SEATINI Uganda, Oxfam Uganda, Action Aid Uganda, EASSI among other entities joined efforts with the Parliamentary Forum on East African Community Affairs (PEACA) to organize the induction and re-orientation of Members of Parliament on the East African Community (EAC) Regional Integration process.
Policy makers/Members of Parliament are central in the integration process through dialogue, influence mechanisms and their constitutional power, they can contribute towards creating enabling frameworks for addressing existing challenges and emerging issues within the EAC and galvanize local population to appreciate the regional body as a means for sustainable peace, order, development and good governance of a country and the region a whole. For this to be achieved, it is important for PEACA members and Parliament of Uganda to be fully inducted.
The induction and re-orientation of Members of Parliament on the Parliamentary Forum on East African Community Affairs was organized around a theme: “EAC Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities: The Role of Parliamentarians in enhancement of EAC integration.
The induction workshop which was held from 28th – 29th July 2022 brought together about 150 participants including Members of Parliament drawn from the Parliamentary Forum on East African Community Affairs, representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies including; Ministry of East African Community Affairs, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MPs -Uganda Chapter, officials from private sector and civil society organizations, media, experts and facilitators.
The induction was aimed at building a strong and effective network of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Region to actively participate in the EAC integration process. MPs were targeted as main stakeholders in the induction workshop and the forum because of the following reasons; they can credibly, effectively and legally enforce the East African agreements and transpose them into national legislation, supported by appropriate budget allocation and robust oversight of government performance putting Parliaments at the heart of the response to East African processes, development and actions.
Speaking at the induction, the President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was also the Chief Guest challenged the current generation of leaders to think about four issues; the unity of the African people for survival, the strategic security of the African people for survival, market integration and Pan Africanism for survival.
The Speaker of Parliament of Uganda Rt. Hon. Anita Annet Among, in a speech read by the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa cited non-tariff barriers as a torpedo of integration, calling upon member states to eliminate the same in line with East African Community Common Market Protocols.
“As some of you may know, there is existence of non-tariff barriers which pose a hindrance to the EAC integration processes; there is need to remove them to facilitate cross-border trade and opportunities in the region,” she said.
The domestication of the East African Legislative Assembly Acts, said Speaker Among, is an important enabler of integration, which Parliament will be eagerly spearhead.
“…the other important area for urgent attention is ensuring domestication and implementation of laid down Acts of the East African Legislative Assembly; many useful observations and recommendations are made in EAC Committee reports…all of you should be reassured that these will be taken forward,” she said.
Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba who was the Keynote Speaker during the induction stressed that it is instructive that even while we were reclaiming our independence, some of the founding fathers of the African nation were conscious that if Africa and East Africa were to thrive, then it was necessary that we act as one.
Hon. Dicksons Kateshumbwa, the Chairperson of PEACA observed that many Ugandans who are skeptical about the EAC regional integration process should know that we have benefited from the EAC. However, the intra-trade is still low. There is still a lot of protectionism. We need to unlock each other and increase the level of trade.
While presenting on behalf of CSOs, Mr. Moses Isooba, the Executive Director, NGO Forum stressed that trade and Investment play a key role in strengthening Regional Integration.
During the induction, it was highlighted that taxation is a cross cutting issue under Customs Union Protocol, Common Market and Monetary Union. Article 83 2 (e) of the Treaty provides that Partner States shall harmonize their tax policies with a view to removing tax distortions in order to bring about a more efficient allocation of resources within the Community.
In his remarks, Hon. Cyrus, the Vice Chairperson, PEACA noted that SEATINI Uganda is among the CSOs that have been working closely with PEACA and have played a great role in organizing the induction workshop.